DOD to roll out new online marketplace to speedily buy AI-aligned tech

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The Pentagon’s Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office (CDAO) is preparing to launch a new one-stop online “marketplace” to solicit, evaluate and curate technologies specifically associated with AI, machine learning, data and analytics — and also enable Defense Department components to rapidly buy those digital capabilities, according to a recently published special notice. 

With its partners in the Army Contracting Command-Rock Island and the Indiana Innovation Institute (IN3), the CDAO is targeting the first quarter of fiscal 2023 to “go-live” with the minimum viable product of this new “Tradewind Solutions Marketplace.”

Between now and Sept. 30, officials involved are crowdsourcing suggestions from industry, academia and government agencies on the concept and framework underpinning that hub and how such organizations could help “shape” it.

After that date, some comments received may be shared publicly. But those behind the emerging vendor space also plan to continue to collect feedback and engage interested parties throughout the existence of the Marketplace initiative.

In early 2021, DOD’s former Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) — which was recently absorbed into the CDAO — and the Army awarded an Other Transaction agreement to IN3 to create a business process and online environment called “Tradewind,” that would drive more efficient AI acquisitions for the U.S. military. Last month, FedScoop reported that the partners recently updated the tradewindai.com website and it is being tested as a modern channel to announce new AI-aligned challenge competitions.

On Aug. 26, the Tradewind Solutions Marketplace announcement was posted there and on the SAM.gov federal government contracting site. Both link to the Tradewind Exchange Challenge Summary landing page where responses are to be submitted.

Specifically, officials want feedback on how they might best provide a venue where defense and military insiders can search for the technologies of interest, and a single location to interact with external organizations that can deliver them through an established rapid contracting pathway.

A 10-page, attached “teaser” draft of the marketplace open call also provides details behind the evolving, and subject to change, notions informing the making of this new online shop — as well as some information about how it will operate.

“The Solutions Marketplace serves industry and academic organizations by providing a forum to showcase relevant research, products, and services to prospective government customers, and serves DOD by providing a forum to access data, analytics, digital and AI/ML solutions and rapidly ingest game changing technology solutions,” the document said.

Envisioned as “a digital environment of competed video pitches,” the marketplace will be designed as a venue for customer organizations “to search, view, review, compare, contrast, contact, negotiate, and procure data, analytics, digital and AI/ML” technologies.

The overarching idea is that once video pitches of capabilities pass through a deep assessment to ensure compliance with federal requirements, and they are approved for the marketplace, they will then be made available for funding via Other Transaction agreements or procurement contracts. 

“Thus, the Tradewind Solutions Marketplace serves as the DOD’s digital environment of post-competition, readily awardable, technology solutions,” the document said.

Video solution pitches will have to address one or more topics on a list of strategic focus areas that will also change over time based on the Pentagon’s needs.

Initially, those areas are: improving situational awareness and decision-making, increasing safety of operating equipment, implementing predictive maintenance and supply, streamlining business processes, assuring cybersecurity and discovering Blue Sky technology applications.

The latter essentially refers to future-facing domains where “real-world” applications are not immediately apparent. The CDAO’s press office did not provide further information by FedScoop’s deadline about what capabilities those involved want in that case.

-In this Story-

Acquisition, artificial intelligence (AI), CDAO, Cybersecurity, data, data analytics, Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), Tradewind
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