Navy Establishes ‘Tech Bridges’ to Speed Innovation

James F. Geurts, center, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition (ASN RDA), announced the Department of the Navy's plan to rapidly expand its collaboration capabilities through the creation of tech bridges, Sept. 3, 2019, in Alexandria, Virginia. The Tech Bridges, part of the Naval Expeditions (NavalX) office, will partner with academia, industry and government entities to remove the barriers that traditionally hamper external collaboration. Photo credit: Bobby Cummings, U.S. Navy

Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition James Geurts has announced the creation of the Palmetto Tech Bridge in Charleston, South Carolina under the coordination of the Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Atlantic.

The Palmetto Tech Bridge will be the sixth bridge established under the Naval Agility Office (NavalX) office since 3 September 2019. The initial five locations are Newport, Rhode Island; Keyport, Washington; San Diego, California; Orlando, Florida; and Crane, Indiana.

“Tech Bridges are designed to capture the culture of innovation in key locations across our nation,” Geurts said. “This endeavor is a combined effort between the Office of Naval Research and the Navy’s Systems Commands to connect, reinforce and sustain acceleration ecosystems to enable key partnerships. Tech Bridges will establish off-base, collaborative spaces that will bring together all parts of our workforce with startups, small businesses, traditional companies and academia.”

“Earlier this year, we stood up the first five locations to facilitate rapid adoption of proven agility-enhancing methods across the Department of Navy,” Geurts said.  “And today, I’m proud that NIWC in collaboration with NavalX has furthered our agility efforts by creating this sixth regional ‘Tech Bridge’ in South Carolina. This is a positive step to better connect the DON and the private sector and enable the DoN to achieve its goal of agility at scale.”

“Drawing on the talents from across industry, NIWC Atlantic will focus and facilitate this considerable innovative force on developing dual-use solutions to meet both national defense needs and enhance the region’s economic strength with innovative commercial products,” said Michael Merriken, Palmetto Tech Bridge director.

Each Tech Bridge is designed to facilitate project efforts focused on solving hard problems and technology challenges identified by Fleet and the DoN workforce. Once up-and-running, the Palmetto Tech Bridge will collaborate with start-ups, academia, corporations, small businesses, non-profits and private capital to identify dual-use solutions for both industry and the warfighter.

“We’re excited that NIWC Atlantic was chosen to lead this critical innovation endeavor through the Palmetto Tech Bridge,” said Capt. Wes Sanders, NIWC Atlantic commanding officer. “This bridge will play a crucial role in executing the necessary work to not only improve our pivot speed but also provide the at-scale agility required by the Department of Navy.”

The Tech Bridges operate on a “franchise” model that will allow each region to develop their own model to connect to their unique innovation ecosystem. Merriken’s team will spend the next month identifying regular meeting spaces to host Palmetto Tech Bridge events for government and industry partners in the southeast region to collaborate on new capabilities.

For more information on NavalX and Tech Bridges, click here.

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