How collaboration can lower the barrier of entry to DoD businessBlog
April 16, 2021
By Paul Meyer, Vice President, Raytheon Intelligence & Space
In a recent congressional testimony, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks stated that as the United States faces growing security challenges, acquisitions of new technology should “increase warfighting effectiveness, enhance resilience, leverage commercial technology and innovation, and rapidly respond to future threats. Hicks also called on the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to seek “interorganizational collaboration” to address such challenges, while expressing concern regarding the barriers to entry for technology companies that want to do business with DoD.
The reality is that Silicon Valley isn’t the only gateway to innovation within the DoD. While startups and small businesses across the nation can hold the key to technology innovation, they may not have the tools to be successful in sharing their solutions with the government. In a world that requires rapid development and delivery of new solutions with the right domain expertise, small businesses and startup companies may want to consider partnering with an aerospace and defense company to better enable seamless integration and fielding of commercial technology at a faster pace to the government sector.
Defense and aerospace and defense companies are accustomed to working with the DoD and other government entities. Smaller businesses may find that a collaborative approach with a larger organization can help lower the barrier of entry to DoD business.
Deeper understanding of the DoD framework
Several barriers of entry exist when conducting business with the DoD, which often cause startups and other small companies to shy away from such business deals. These types of companies may not be adequately resourced or understand the government acquisition process well enough to meet the DoD’s mission requirements.
This is where a collaborative approach is perhaps most beneficial. Defense and aerospace companies intimately know the ins and outs of the government framework. The large companies have the mission domain knowledge to deliver a full mission solution, integrating the technology that nontraditional companies bring to the table. In this situation, when the technology isn’t exclusive to the more traditional defense company, it nonetheless has the expertise and necessary framework to bring commercial technology to DoD solutions. Collaboration can be considered the gateway for startups and other emerging companies that simply aren’t staffed enough or accustomed to working with the DoD’s comprehensive framework and requirements.
Innovative capabilities from third parties
Collaboration opens the door for DoD to receive more technology capabilities from various providers than ever before. An open architecture approach avoids solutions that are locked into one vendor who owns everything – but can have the undesired side effect of stalling innovation, development, and delivery.
An example of taking the best of both worlds and merging them together to benefit the DoD is the use of DevSecOps [development, security, and operations] and integrated machine learning (ML) capabilities in TITAN, a new scalable, portable ground station under development to help narrow the sensor-to-shooter timeline. As a tactical ground station – a forward-deployed system designed to receive, process and disseminate data – TITAN sifts autonomously through massive amounts of sensor data to find and track potential threats rapidly. Whereas before, it took hours to get targeting quality accuracy for an entire image, TITAN enables users to obtain real-time targeting quality accuracy for every pixel of an image.
The offering is led by Raytheon Intelligence & Space, but it also integrates technology from a wide range of commercial companies, from General Dynamics and Maxar Technologies to Algorithmia, C3.ai, and Esri. Combining commercial tech with Raytheon’s own defense innovation provided a rapid solution to a DoD challenge. It is just one of many proof points that the capabilities of collaboration.
Through collaboration, the speed at which innovation is delivered dramatically increases, creating a major differentiator for our government.
Technology that will help speed the delivery of innovative services is rooted in artificial intelligence (AI)/ML; today, numerous startups specialize in AI/ML, meaning they have the keys to power the DoD’s next breakthrough technology. The way in is through what Deputy Secretary Hicks refers to as interorganizational collaboration.
A good example of this approach in action is the Raytheon Intelligence & Space alliance with C3.ai, a leader in ML known for its AI development platform and their work with the U.S. Air Force. The partnership aims to speed AI adoption across the DoD, pairing our expertise in the aerospace and defense sector with C3.ai’s AI development and applications.
Ultimately, it’s not about who is going to deliver the technology; instead, it’s about delivering the right solutions to the customer, regardless of where the technology comes from. The main goal should be to support the DoD and to ensure that the government has the proper tools and technology needed to keep the U.S. and our allies safe.
The DoD requires innovative solutions and services not just from the traditional organizations it regularly deals with, but also from nontraditional and commercial companies who are innovating their own way, at their own pace. Through collaboration with an enabler like traditional larger defense and aerospace companies, the barrier to enter DoD business is significantly lower, making the U.S. government better-equipped to adopt innovation from more than one provider, ultimately making the U.S. stronger, faster, and more secure.
Paul Meyer is Vice President, Raytheon Intelligence & Space