The Sikorsky Entrepreneurial Challenge
Spark What’s Next™
Submit Your Idea. Win Cash. Collaborate with an Industry Leader.
Sikorsky Innovations, the advanced research organization of a world leader in vertical flight solutions, is looking for your ideas! Through the Entrepreneurial Challenge, now in its third year, the organization identifies potential collaborators that can help solve some of the toughest industry challenges.
Awardees will gain entry to an extensive network of technical experts, business mentors, strategic team members, potential customers and experienced investors.
Sikorsky Innovations holds the Entrepreneurial Challenge to highlight and support revolutionary ideas, ventures and innovators whose technology is highly relevant to one of its identified focus area. Each focus area (outlined below) represents current company technology needs for production aircraft and processes.
Sikorsky is looking for agile technology leaders across all industry domains that embody the entrepreneurial spirit, passion, and management style to complement the qualities of an established industry leader and creatively address the toughest problems in vertical flight. The company encourages individuals or teams incubating new ideas around the globe, whether working in a garage or in a Fortune 500 company, to apply.
The Winner of the competition will be eligable for a $25K non-dilutive cash prize.
Winners of the Entrepreneurial Challenge will also have the opportunity to:
- Collaborate with Sikorsky to validate their products and explore opportunities.
- Leverage the resources and network of the Stamford Innovation Center.
- Access mentoring program, education workshops, and events across Connecticut's entrepreneurial network, CTNEXT, for one year.
- Receive an investment evaluation from the Sikorsky Entrepreneurial Panel following incubation.
Most of all, Winners and Awardees of the Entrepreneurial Challenge will be able to leverage Sikorsky's industry knowledge and relationships.
In addition, Sikorsky reserves the right to name to other classes of award winners: Special Recognition and Honorable Mention.
These two classes of awardees will also have the opportunity to work with Sikorsky to explore opportunities.
All prizes and awards are subject to the Terms & Conditions found in the Application Package.
Connect and Learn More
Keep up to date with all of the latest Entrepreneurial Challenge news and insights. Visit TechAloft, a blog curated by the Stamford Innovation Center, to keep up to date on all of the insights posted for each focus area by the Entrepreneurial Challenge team. Exclusive interviews and content from industry experts are posted regularly.
Sign up for the application website to be able to review and download the competition's rules and regulations.
The current deadlines for the Challenge are as follows:
- Background: Modern aircraft rely on sensors to provide critical information on the current state of key components and systems to the onboard Health and Usage Monitoring Systems (HUMS). HUMS is fully integrated with the aircraft, and as a result are difficult and/or expensive to augment or change as new potential aircraft issues arise during the decades-long lifespan of the aircraft that would benefit from monitoring to keep the fleet flying.
- The Requirement: Environmentally robust (extreme operational temperature range, wet, high vibration), multi-functional, plug-and-play, interoperable sensors available in several modalities (strain, vibration, and temperature) and in a very small form factor that can augment existing HUMS network. Wireless data transmission preferred, but not required. Local energy harvesting, remote wireless power or battery powered with > 12 months of operating time preferred, but not required. Ease of network integration into existing aircraft, reconfigurability, and network weight are especially important. Hardware and software components that could be a critical sub-system of the final solution are also sought.
- Background: Increased use of the electromagnetic frequency spectrum can create issues for high bandwidth data and voice transmission between dispersed platforms, such as airplanes and ships. Such issues are not unlike those facing large commercial data networks today, including multi-path and fading issues experienced on 3G, 4G and emerging 5G capabilities.
- The Requirement: Hardware and software solutions sought that can increase data bandwidth and reliability. Unique waveforms, increased frequency recognition and switching, and situationally aware, cognitive radio technologies are all examples of potential solutions. Potential solutions do not need to be limited to FCC frequency restrictions.
- Background: Today’s sensors output a tremendous amount of raw data that must be correlated, synchronized and simplified in order to provide useful input to a pilot or automated control system. There’s the potential for significant increases in reliability of this data if sensors could be seamlessly integrated into a single, cohesive data environment.
- The Requirement: Software and algorithms capable of combining previously disparate sensor data into a single data stream for either output to display interfaces or used as an input to advanced navigation systems. Algorithms that can simultaneously correlate and cross-check for data validity would be ideal. Interoperability with existing, Sikorsky optionally piloted data architectures and APIs strongly preferred.
Frequently Asked Questions
- I’ve read through the Entrepreneurial Challenge Application Kit, and I am confused. I thought this was a business plan competition. I am correct that the first round application is only a 5 page business summary?
Yes, a 5 page business summary that conforms to the requirements outlined in the Entrepreneurial Challenge Application Kit is the requirement for the first round application. It is the intent of the Entrepreneurial Challenge to locate cutting edge products with a substantiated business plan, so emphasis in both the first and final judging round is placed on the team’s understanding of the technology/product and commercialization strategy. No formal business plan will be evaluated by the judging panel.
- My product applies to one of the Focus Areas, but my business is based away from the New England area. Do I have to be willing to relocate?
No, relocation is not required. It is however suggested and considered valuable to have at least part of your team in Stamford, Connecticut. Relocating allows the contestant to derive the most benefit from the collaboration, given the close proximity to Sikorsky world headquarters. Moving to Connecticut also provides access to the Northeast innovation community, potential private and state funding, mentors, and workshops to help accelerate your business. It will not be considered when judging your submission, but please state in your application if you believe your team will not take advantage of the relocation option.
- I work at a large company as part of small team. The team has a revolutionary product still in development or not currently on the market that could have a strong application to Sikorsky’s current or future products. Should I apply?
Yes, individuals and teams that have a disruptive technology or process are encouraged to apply to the Entrepreneurial Challenge, whether they work as part of a standalone entrepreneurial startup or as part of a Fortune 500 company. The passion, commitment, and risk-taking leadership traits that define an entrepreneur are not limited to those working in small companies, and the intent of the Entrepreneurial Challenge is to identify and support revolutionary ideas wherever they are being developed. As long as your team meets the requirements defined in the Entrepreneurial Challenge Application Kit, you are eligible to apply to the Challenge.
- My company has a product with potential benefits to Sikorsky, but it is currently being offered as a Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) solution. Is there an opportunity for us to work with Sikorsky?
Yes, Sikorsky and Sikorsky Innovations engage with companies of all sizes that offer novel technologies and services. If you are a business with an existing product that does not qualify for the Entrepreneurial Challenge, but is not yet a part of Sikorsky’s products or services, please contact us at EChallenge@sikorsky.com so that we can learn more about the opportunity.
- I am a current college student that is trying to start a company, but I am not currently spending a full time equivalent on my idea. If my team is a new entrepreneurial venture, and winning the Entrepreneurial Challenge would allow us to start working on our idea, can we still qualify?
Yes, teams may do so. The rule is intended to convey that all applicants must be willing to dedicate a full time person to their venture if selected.
However, if your team does not have a full time equivalent person developing the idea, clearly state so in your application and explain the reasons for that. As the judging criteria in the Entrepreneurial Challenge Kit indicates, first round applications will be strongly judged on the competency of the assembled team, a category that would be given additional consideration if the venture is still maturing. All teams are strongly encouraged to show in their application that their team has both the management and technical experience necessary to mature and commercialize their offering.
- Can international applicants apply to the Entrepreneurial Challenge?
Yes, any team that meets the requirements of the Entrepreneurial Challenge (as outlined in the Application Kit) is eligible to apply. International applicants do not need to have a U.S. based subsidiary in order to apply.