The Army is holding its second “Innovation Day” in Austin, Texas this week as the service looks to bolster engagement with non-traditional partners and pair up novel technology concepts with major prototype development programs.

Officials told reporters Wednesday the Army received over 700 responses seeking to participate in the event, which is being coordinated with Futures Command and Army Applications Lab, before inviting 38 companies to pitch their emerging capabilities to panels of Army leaders. 

“We host these innovation days to solicit good ideas for disruptive, innovative approaches and technologies that address critical capabilities. Through these events, these selected good ideas can be further evaluated for potential prototype development through the Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO),” said Marcia Holmes, deputy director of RCCTO.

While the Army’s rapid technologies office is specifically leading the service’s hypersonic weapons and directed energy initiatives, Holmes noted that concepts pitched at the Innovation Day can be applicable outside of those areas.

Holmes said the Army will reach out to companies that piqued their interest immediately following the event, and then work to match individual technologies with program offices to begin refining concepts. Those capabilities will then be presented to senior Army leadership to receive approval for prototyping.

Bill Cohen, chief technology officer for the Army’s acquisition office, told reporters the post-Innovation Day process allows non-traditional partners greater engagement to work directly with program offices to determine how their AI or machine learning tool could be applied to a specific ongoing program.

“We can go back and work with these companies and say we know what you have with that capability, we want to shape what you’re offering us and then retool it so that you can respond to the Request for Proposal that we’re developing. And I think that’s the power of what we’re doing here,” Cohen said.  

The Army already has one company under contract that participated in the inaugural Innovation Day back in September in McLean, Virginia, according to Holmes. 

TRX Systems, a small Maryland-based company, received a deal in December to deliver an electronic warfare kit within the next 12 months.  

“The technologies that we are finding at these Innovation Day events are primed for those offices to do quick turns and quick wins on technology transitions to the warfighter,” Holmes said.