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NEWS | Oct. 17, 2023

NUWC Division Newport contracting professionals connect small businesses with the Navy’s technology needs

By NUWC Division Newport Public Affairs

Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport contracting professionals played a vital role at the Defense Innovation Days event sponsored by the Southeastern New England Defense Industry Alliance from Aug. 28-30, by connecting more than two dozen exhibitors with scientists and engineers at the warfare center.

Andrew Nagelhout, deputy head of the Contracts Department, and Chris Kenney, who leads Procurement Division 1, were on hand to answer questions from company representatives on how to do business with the federal government.

“A company would come over and basically say, ‘How do I do business with NUWC?’” Nagelhout said. “At that point, I’m asking them what type of work they do. I’m capturing their business cards. I’m sending emails to specific departments who might have an interest in the technology or service or product they provide.”

Nagelhout said the companies in attendance “ran the gamut” in terms of what they had to offer — from cybersecurity solutions to air testing — and his institutional knowledge of what Division Newport scientists and engineers are working on helped guide him in making a connection.

“Chris and I have a pretty good feel for what each of the departments does and what their interests might be. That allows us to hone in a little bit more,” Nagelhout said. “In most cases, I emailed the division head and copied the contractor, saying, ‘This is where I think they can help you.’”

Many of the representatives who approached the Division Newport booth were from smaller companies that were inquiring about how to establish a relationship.

Nagelhout directed them to the warfare center’s external website and called on Sarah Heard, director of the Office of Small Business, to point entrepreneurs to a series of upcoming business events sponsored by Division Newport

These include a SeaPort-NxG and Contracts Council meeting on Oct. 17 and a Strike Industry Day by Division Newport’s Undersea Warfare Combat Systems Department on Nov. 2. Both events will be held at Division Newport. Heard lauded SENEDIA for putting together a quality list of speakers that included Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti and Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro.

“Many of them talked about Navy priorities and the role small businesses play in those priorities,” she said.

Division Newport has made a commitment to increasing small business participation and overall competition in its acquisitions. The warfare center fosters networking and prime and subcontractor relationships while striving to meet small business and socio-economic goals by embracing the philosophy “Think Small Business First.”

A thorough, top-to-bottom process, from senior leadership down, demonstrates these efforts are making a difference, as performance metrics continually tilt in a positive direction. For example, in fiscal year 2023, $354 million of $775 million (45.6%) was contributed to small business from the total eligible small business obligations. In fiscal year 2022, those figures were $299 million of $708 million (42.2%).

Heard said roughly 96% of Rhode Islanders are employed by small businesses, so they’re critical to the state’s economy.

Also on hand at the conference was Julie Kallfelz, director of the Northeast Tech Bridge, which seeks to connect the region’s industry partners with scientists and engineers to ultimately get capabilities to the fleet and the warfighter faster.

Upcoming events include a Technology Showcase on Oct. 24 at the collaboration space at 127 John Clarke Road in Middletown, Rhode Island from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and a UXV Demonstration Day at Division Newport on Dec. 5.

NUWC Newport is the oldest warfare center in the country, tracing its heritage to the Naval Torpedo Station established on Goat Island in Newport Harbor in 1869. Commanded by Capt. Chad Hennings, NUWC Newport maintains major detachments in West Palm Beach, Florida, and Andros Island in the Bahamas, as well as test facilities at Seneca Lake and Fisher's Island, New York, Leesburg, Florida, and Dodge Pond, Connecticut.

Join our team! NUWC Division Newport, one of the 20 largest employers in Rhode Island, employs a diverse, highly trained, educated, and skilled workforce. We are continuously looking for engineers, scientists, and other STEM professionals, as well as talented business, finance, logistics and other support experts who wish to be at the forefront of undersea research and development. Please connect with NUWC Division Newport Recruiting at this site- and follow us on LinkedIn @NUWC-Newport and on Facebook @NUWCNewport.