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CHIPS Articles: Bridging Innovation and Capability: ONR, NavalX and Tech Bridges

Bridging Innovation and Capability: ONR, NavalX and Tech Bridges
By Warren Duffie Jr., Office of Naval Research - September 5, 2019
ARLINGTON, Va. -- To the Hon. James Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition, the mission of the Naval Expeditions (NavalX) Agility Office isn't to "re-invent the wheel" but to expand and enhance the Department of the Navy's (DoN) collaboration capabilities.

On Sept. 3, during a media event in Alexandria, Virginia, Geurts, who oversees NavalX, announced the creation of a new tool -- Tech Bridges – to aid in making the DoN more agile, innovative and collaborative.

A partnership between NavalX, the Navy's Systems Commands and the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the Tech Bridges will serve as regional innovation hubs where warfare centers, government, academia and industry can team up for technology research, evaluation and commercialization -- as well as education and workforce development.

"We're not in the business of inventing things, or getting rid of them and replacing them with a new shiny object," said Geurts. "NavalX wants to connect those people with good ideas about innovation, in and out of the DON, and leverage what's already being done well -- to maintain our most competitive advantage: thinking faster than our enemy."

Geurts announced the establishment of five Tech Bridges in Newport, Rhode Island; Keyport, Washington; San Diego, California; Orlando, Florida; and Crane, Indiana.

The Tech Bridges will connect and sustain "acceleration ecosystems" in off-base locations across the DON, enabling greater collaboration. This will be done by partnering with colleges and universities, research institutions, start-ups, corporations, small businesses and non-profits, among others.

Each hub will be supported by NavalX and will facilitate project efforts in each region designed to solve pressing problems and technology needs identified by the fleet and DON workforce.

Tech Bridges will also work within the expanding ecosystem of Department of Defense innovation groups, including the Defense Innovation Unit, National Security Innovation Network and U.S. Army Futures Command.

The Tech Bridges will operate on a "franchise" model that will empower each region to cultivate its own model for connecting with its distinct innovation ecosystem. This will enable them to build sustainable networks for collaboration and accelerated problem solving -- to address current and future DON capability challenges.

For Geurts, success for Tech Bridges and NavalX is when, “ONR can leverage that platform to get access to new ideas and technologies and companies they may not have seen before … when the [Small Business Innovation Research] folks can meet new companies and give them rapid training on how to compete for Navy work … when scientists can walk in with an idea or hear about a problem and go back to their academic institutions and propose research projects that leverage all those different elements … when Sailors and Marines have a place they can walk into to either find an answer or find somebody that can get them the answer—or have an idea and then get that idea to somebody who can act.”

Launched in February 2019, NavalX is intended to give Sailors, Marines and DON civilians the tools to deliver ideas into action. This will enable every organization to better connect Sailors and Marines who have innovative ideas with experts who can experiment with those ideas, invest in them, or help turn them into something tangible for the Navy and Marine Corps.

Learn more about NavalX and Tech Bridges, go to: www.secnav.navy.mil/agility or https://www.secnav.navy.mil/agility/Pages/techbridges.aspx

Warren Duffie Jr. is a contractor for ONR Corporate Strategic Communications.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Sep. 3, 2019) Mr. James F. Geurts (center), assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition (ASN RDA), announced the DoN's plan to rapidly expand its collaboration capabilities through the creation of Tech Bridges on September 3, 2019, in Alexandria, Virginia. The Tech Bridges, a part of the Naval Expeditions (NavalX) office, will partner with academia, industry and government entities to remove the barriers that traditionally hamper external collaboration. (U.S. Navy photo by Bobby Cummings)
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Sep. 3, 2019) Mr. James F. Geurts (center), assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition (ASN RDA), announced the DoN's plan to rapidly expand its collaboration capabilities through the creation of Tech Bridges on September 3, 2019, in Alexandria, Virginia. The Tech Bridges, a part of the Naval Expeditions (NavalX) office, will partner with academia, industry and government entities to remove the barriers that traditionally hamper external collaboration. (U.S. Navy photo by Bobby Cummings)
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