Do you find flight a trip? Fantasize about the cool Star Wars fighter pilot scene and imagine ways to hover, dart and zip through the air? Then Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. has a contest for you.
Sikorsky Innovations, a group of Sikorsky employees devoted to tech development, has created the “Entrepreneurial Challenge’’ with five technical questions posted to Sikorsky.com. The team is hunting for entrepreneurs who will work with and create future gizmos for a company that is best known for its military helicopters.
The team wants innovators who can create what they consider more intelligent aircraft with wireless sensing, and to make aircraft safer by reducing detection and—in case you didn’t remember that the U.S. government is the big customer—vulnerability to weapons. Sikorsky also seeks high power and high-density energy storage ideas: better ways to cool avionic and senor systems and electronic applications for aircraft (apps, to most folks) that will work for the aerospace world.
This is way wonky stuff, judging from a close read of the challenge questions. Apps could show "benefits range from increasing operator situational awareness and awareness of an aircraft’s health, to supporting enhanced vehicle autonomy, to decreasing operator workload and improving operational safety."
Entrepreneurial teams can submit applications to one or more of the challenge questions. Applications will be judged on technical feasibility, value proposition and team expertise, Sikorsky says. Finalists will get to present their ideas to Sikorsky experts. Plus, winning teams will get rent-free access to the Stamford Innovation Center, the old town hall in Stamford, Conn., including part of Sikorsky’s incubation space. Winners also can take part in the center’s education and mentorship programs. Sikorsky technical and business mentors promise to assist teams in growing their businesses. (Read more on mentoring.)
Sikorsky Innovations vice president Chris Van Buiten points out that competition has long driven innovation, including back when Charles Lindbergh won the $25,000 Orteig Prize for flying nonstop—solo—from Long Island, N.Y., to France in 1927. “Sikorsky Innovations is continually looking to expand its network of partners, working closely with them to demonstrate differentiating technologies that are relevant to our customers,’’ Van Buiten said in a news release. “The Entrepreneurial Challenge represents another facet of that strategy, targeted at those innovators just beginning their entrepreneurial journey.”
The deadline for the proposals based on the current challenge questions is March 30 at 5 p.m. eastern. Winners are to be notified May 11.
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