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Lockheed plans 'Shark Tank' style tech pitches during Sikorsky helicopter ride

Everyone it seems wants to emulate the Shark Tank TV show. We’ve seen it at conferences, where people pitch ideas to a panel of experts, who ask pointed questions and then give the thumbs up or down.

Well, it looks Lockheed Martin is joining the fray but with a decided twist. Instead of a stage or a board room, Lockheed is employing one of its Sikorksy helicopter flying 1,000 feet over Austin, Texas, during the annual South by Southwest festival.

The company is accepting applicants through March 3. If an emerging company or entrepreneur is picked they’ll get a chance to pitch to Lockheed Martin Ventures, ClearSky, ARCH Venture Partners and Lockheed’s chief technology scout Brent Segal.

“It’s a wild way to pitch an idea, but so much of starting your own business is wild,” said Chris Moran, vice president of Lockheed Martin Ventures, in a press release. “In a way, this embodies that process.”

Once applications are submitted, there is a first round of selections. Then those selected companies will make a 10 minute pitch on March 12 and 13 in the Lockheed Martin booth at SXSW. From there finalists will be picked as finalists for the helicopter pitch in front of Moran, Segal and representatives of the venture capital firms.

Lockheed isn’t saying how much the investments will be, nor is there any mention of what happens if you are on the helicopter and your pitch gets rejected. I’m just kidding, of course, I doubt anyone will be making a quick exit.

It is a great publicity ploy for Lockheed. They get to show off one of their helicopters. It’s a fun twist on the Shark Tank model. They will make a splash at a festival that has grown from one built around the indie music and film scene into a mainstream technology and entertainment showcase.

But it isn’t just fun. Lockheed has a list of 14 very serious technologies they are interested in:

  • Advanced materials and manufacturing
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • Autonomous systems and robotics
  • Aviation technologies
  • Communications and sensors
  • Cybersecurity
  • Data analytics
  • Energy and power systems
  • Internet of things
  • Next generation electronics
  • Space technologies
  • Sustainability
  • Undersea technologies
  • Virtual and augmented reality

“At Lockheed Martin, we build technologies that explore deep space, create breakthroughs in human-machine teaming and enable critical defense missions around the world,” Moran said. “The commercial space has incredible technologies with strong defense applications. We're looking for those perfect fit technologies.”

So if you fit that description and think you want to take a free helicopter ride, Lockheed wants to hear from you.

Here’s the link for more information.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Feb 22, 2017 at 9:19 AM

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