Innovation Day Showcases Groundbreaking Technologies

Michael Tanzillo and Dr. Randy Villahermosa use the interactive visualization table to demo technology. (Photo: Elisa Haber)

The Aerospace Corporation transformed into a lively incubator of start-up pitches, technology demonstrations, and a panel discussion, where members of the Air Force engaged with tech start-ups to discuss how each might better work together, at the company’s first Innovation Day.

Aerospace teamed with Starburst to co-host the accelerator event on March 21, where 11 startups were invited to come in and discuss their technologies through quick, ten-minute presentations. These companies are hoping to break into the traditionally tough-to-enter market of government-funded military work. It is a ripe time for each to pursue such work as the pace of technology continues to accelerate, the government looks for ways to reduce costs, and the number of companies entering the market with potentially viable solutions grows and expands.

While Aerospace maintains its traditional role of providing expertise and technical support to the government for space and satellite systems, it is also exploring ventures into new markets, and many of the technologies pitched at the event might work for military, civil, or commercial sector customers.

Brig. Gen. Mark Baird provides remarks to attendees prior to industry startup pitches. (Photo: Eric Hamburg)

The startups also showcased technologies for the next generation of how people might live, with some examples being flying cars, close-encounter helicopters, and remote and virtual augmentation/reality for manufacturing and maintenance work. They were all looking for funding to turn their ideas from concepts into operational systems, and came from California, Israel, Brazil, and France. The startups were eager to show how their products might solve problems better, faster, and more cost-effectively than in the past.

The Air Force and other government customers, representatives of industry, investors, local politicians, and members of the media attended the event.

Meanwhile, across campus, and timed to coincide with the Starburst event, Aerospace’s Exploration, Prototyping, and Innovation Center (EPIC) was unveiled. President and CEO Steve Isakowitz and acting Innovation Laboratory (iLab) Executive Director Dr. Randy Villahermosa led members of the media on a tour of Aerospace’s own breakthrough technologies, with employees demonstrating their prowess at stations set up throughout the center.

Isakowitz said, “This is the place to try new things, and is the first phase of this experiment. We are close to our customer, and it’s perfect for cross-fertilization efforts. It is for embracing and adopting technologies that we can share with our customers.” Villahermosa said, “iLab is for exploring, prototyping, and collaborating.”

To learn more, check out the list of startups below who attended the event and pitched their concepts, or read about some of the Aerospace technologies on display during the day.


—Nancy Profera