A team of subject matter experts will review your submission using the rubric for the Challenge you're participating at.
Once all the assessments have been made, we use statistical analysis to assess which teams to invite to the Showcase and move on in the Challenge.
If you have been invited to continue to the Showcase phase, congratulations! This means you are in the top 10-20% of all submissions received as assessed by the team of government subject matter experts.
Being selected for the Showcase means you now have access to the Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO) pathway - if one is available for your Challenge. Having access to the CSO means anyone in the Department of the Air Force could get you on contract to implement your solution, assuming of course that your solution meets a need they have and you can agree on terms.
At this stage in the process, you are now much closer to being awarded a contract with the US government and so now would be a good time to make sure your company is prepared for this. If you have not already got one, now would be a good time to get a DUNS and CAGE code.
The Showcase phase will start with a webinar to explain the next steps in the process to all the selected teams. There are three main steps in the Showcase:
- Ask Me Anything (AMA) session to ask questions to the Challenge Sponsor team and networking opportunities for you to meet other teams to assess collaboration opportunities
- Private pitches to the Challenge Sponsor team and other Air Force evaluators
- Trade show style event for all teams to meet each other, the Challenge team, and other interested Airmen and Guardians
At the conclusion of the Showcase, usually 1-2 weeks after, the Challenge Sponsor team will announce which solutions have been selected to move on to the next phase of the Challenge, which is the prototyping phase.
Ask Me Anything & Networking
Typically there will be at least two opportunities to meet with other teams selected for the Showcase and also ask questions to the Challenge Sponsor team. These sessions could be useful to look for teaming opportunities or for clarification on some aspects of your solution to amend your pitch.
The private pitch consists of you presenting a pitch to the evaluation team and then a period for Q&A. The exact nature of this private pitch will depend on a number of factors:
- Nature: Is it virtual or in-person?
- Pitch type: Is it live or pre-recorded?
- Pitch length: 5-15 minutes
- Q&A length: 5-15 minutes
- Demonstration: Some allow for demonstration.
The AFWERX Challenge team has prepared some guides to support you with your pitch and offer webinars and training events.
Pre-COVID, the Showcase was typically an in-person 2-day event where the private pitches and the trade show took place at the same time. One of the pivots we made during COVID was to separate the private pitches to happen before the tradeshow and have them online using ZOOM for Government or WEBEX.
Virtual Trade Show:
During a virtual showcase, each solution (not necessarily each company, in case you have more than one solution selected) gets a virtual booth. In the virtual booth, you have the opportunity to add information about your solution like a video, digital brochures, and contact information. There will also be a period of time where there is a live link to a video conference meeting where attendees at the virtual trade show can meet with you.
In-person Trade Show:
At an in-person trade show, you will be given access to a 7 ft x 3 ft table to set up your booth, and the ability to print a sign for your solution. Every solution has the same size booth, whether you are a multi-billion dollar company or a small business. At the trade show, Airmen, Guardians, and other DoD services will be able to walk around and meet with you to understand more about your solution and assess your capability for their needs. Other companies present at the trade show also have the opportunity to mingle and look for collaboration opportunities.
After the Showcase, the Challenge Sponsor team decides which teams they would like to contract with.
The next step is typically a Request for a Proposal and a Statement of Work submitted by the solution provider. What then follows is a series of negotiations to assess the fit between the proposed Statement of Work, the needs of the Challenge Sponsor, and available funding.
In addition to the Challenge Sponsor, there are other contracting opportunities with other Department of the Air Force customers and end-users using the Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO) if one is available. The CSO is open to anyone in the Department of the Air Force, as a contracting pathway.
There are many benefits to participating in a Challenge
- Your solution gains visibility within the DoD, potential investors, and industry; a fantastic opportunity to network or collaborate
- With your invitation to a showcase, you’ve passed through a rigorous evaluation process, opening contracting pathways
- Contracting paths will become available for you, through the team sponsoring the challenge or anyone else within the Air Force