Kairos Research has been awarded a contract with the Air Force to begin Phase 2 of the Automated analysis of Supplier Capability for Ensuring National Dominance (ASCEND) project. ASCEND seeks to develop new AI-powered business intelligence tools that will enable DoD procurement professionals to better understand and engage with the large ecosystem of manufacturers comprising the defense industrial base. Additionally, ASCEND will assist in the identification of new suppliers (especially small businesses) that have not traditionally worked with the DoD but that have the potential to introduce greater diversity and competition into the DoD supply network. As emphasized in the recent DoD report on Securing Defense-Critical Supply Chains, “A strong, dynamic, and robust small business industrial base is vital to national security and is an important pillar in the DoD’s ability to utilize the most cutting-edge technologies and advanced capabilities.”
The goal of ASCEND Phase 2 is to conduct a proof-of-concept implementation and validation of ASCEND’s core AI algorithms. These algorithms are designed to exploit ever-increasing amounts of “unstructured” text data available on the web and via other sources. Examples of relevant data include manufacturers’ websites, press releases, technical white papers, and product catalogues. Such data can potentially be analyzed to infer the capabilities of individual suppliers with respect to a specific DoD solicitation or sourcing need.
Srikanth Nadella, a Senior Software Engineer at Kairos, will lead the ASCEND project in collaboration with researchers at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. According to Mr. Nadella, “If ASCEND is successful, the result will be less time spent researching suppliers, more competitive sourcing through the identification of alternate suppliers, and ultimately more robust supply chains.”
The ASCEND project is funded by the Department of Defense Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program and managed through the Air Force Research Laboratory’s AFWERX unit. The goal of the STTR program is to encourage joint ventures between small business and nonprofit research institutions, including universities. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Air Force Research Laboratory / AFWERX.