Army offers HBCU students $100,000 in cash prizes

By Daniel Smoot, Office of Army Prize Competitions and Army SBIR ProgramSeptember 20, 2023

Building an enduring and fruitful relationship between the U.S. Army and Historically Black Colleges and Universities is a pivotal component of the xTechHBCU Student Competition, which provides an opportunity for students to pitch novel technologies capable of supporting U.S. Soldiers. (U.S. Army)
Building an enduring and fruitful relationship between the U.S. Army and Historically Black Colleges and Universities is a pivotal component of the xTechHBCU Student Competition, which provides an opportunity for students to pitch novel technologies capable of supporting U.S. Soldiers. (U.S. Army) (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

WASHINGTON – Building an enduring and fruitful relationship between the U.S. Army and Historically Black Colleges and Universities is a pivotal component of the xTechHBCU Student Competition, which provides an opportunity for undergraduate students to pitch novel technologies capable of supporting U.S. Soldiers.

Led by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, the competition seeks to increase student interest and embolden their success within the Department of Defense. The competition also aims to address Army challenges in technology areas such as autonomy, chemical and biological sciences, and health.

“By collaborating with the HBCU community, the Army can not only diversify its approach to research and development, but also build meaningful partnerships with students preparing for their careers,” said Dr. Matt Willis, director of Army Prize Competitions and the Army Applied Small Business Innovation Research Program. “At the same time, it’s critical we work with HBCU’s talent pool, who can add great value to address emerging needs across the Army and DoD.”

As part of the xTechHBCU competition, students that propose solutions will participate in two rounds. During the final round, students can earn cash prizes up to $10,500 for first place, $8,500 for second place, $6,500 for third place and $4,500 for fourth place. In addition to these cash prizes, participants can also engage with Army and DoD stakeholders throughout pitches during an accelerator program and through multiple networking opportunities.

Round One: Concept Pentachart Submissions

·        Student applicants will submit a pentachart slide with supporting graphics that outline the technology concept, viability, dual-use case and benefit to the Army. Following the submission, a panel of DoD technologists, scientists, engineers and acquisition experts will review the proposals and select up to 20 students to move on to the competition’s finals.

xTechHBCU Student Accelerator

·        To prepare for the round-two in-person pitch event, student finalists can participate in the xTechHBCU Student Accelerator, a cohort-based program that will help develop finalists through educational programming, diverse mentorship, venture building consulting, community building and strategic exposure. Those that participate in the accelerator will receive additional information following their selection.

Round Two: xTechHBCU Student Competition Finals

·        First-round student finalists will pitch their solutions to an in-person panel of DoD technologists, scientists, engineers and acquisition experts in February 2024. The judging panel will then select up to four winners to receive $10,500 for first place, $8,500 for second place $6,500 for third place, and $4,500 for fourth place.

Eligible HBCU students who want to participate must submit their pentachart slides by 5 p.m. EDT on Nov. 1, 2023. For all competition-related information, please visit the xTechHBCU Student Competition page.

Established in 2018, the Army xTech Program strives to integrate small and nontraditional businesses into the Army’s science and technology ecosystem. It provides opportunities for direct exposure to laboratories, program executive offices and program managers across the Army.

Participants receive detailed feedback from Army and DoD stakeholders and have access to training, mentorship and other support infrastructure. This feedback and support guides businesses through the competition and determines where their solutions best align within the Army.

The xTech Program holds several competitions per year. These include open-topic competitions such as xTechSearch as well as technology-specific competitions that target key Army challenges. For additional xTech information, please visit the Army xTech website.

The Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology offers the American Soldier a decisive advantage in any mission by developing, acquiring, fielding and sustaining the world’s finest equipment and services. It also leverages its technologies and capabilities to meet current and future Soldier needs. To learn more, pleaes visit the ASA(ALT) website.