NEWPORT, R.I. —
The Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport has been selected to host one of five national Tech Bridges charged with creating a nexus of high-impact knowledge and skills for the Department of the Navy (DON).
Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition (ASN RDA) James Geurts made the announcement Sept. 3 during a conference call with regional representatives and members of the media.
Geurts said the other Tech Bridges will be located in Keyport, Washington; Crane, Indiana; Orlando, Florida; and San Diego, California. Each will focus on Navy-wide issues unique to the sites’ expertise and locations, though Geurts declined to go further into specifics at this time.
“Tech Bridges can create a combustion chamber for innovation. This will allow us to carry across much broader systems, scaling out as a much larger piece,” Geurts said. “Think of it as a franchise model. Each has their own unique flavor, but they do this with a standard of performance. We can take these Tech Bridges and leverage big programs across the Navy.”
Mary Sylvia, head, Technology Partnership Office, Valerie Larkin, Technology Transfer (T2) manager, and Public Affairs Officer Jeff Prater, represented Division Newport on the conference call. The group called in from Innovate Newport, the 34,000-square-foot collaborative working space that opened in early June in the former Sheffield School in Newport.
“Division Newport is an ideal site for a Tech Bridge,” Sylvia said. “We have a history of strong partnerships throughout the region, and beyond, to advance our research and technology development. As an example, Innovate Newport, a technology incubator and business accelerator, is a key part of a City of Newport economic development and job-creating initiative focused on climate change, resilience, cybersecurity and related marine technology. Our engagement with City of Newport (and Innovate Newport) is through a Partnership Intermediary Agreement (PIA). PIAs are an important T2 mechanism to enable Tech Bridges.”
The Tech Bridges were birthed from NavalX. Announced by Geurts in February 2019, the NavalX program is designed to be a “super-connector” of the DON workforce, focused on scaling nontraditional agility methods across the DON workforce. “The T2 mechanisms we have at our disposal will be leveraged extensively and are important components in supporting NavalX objectives.”
Partnering with the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Navy’s Systems Commands, Tech Bridges will connect, reinforce and sustain acceleration ecosystems in off-base locations across the DON. These Tech Bridges will partner with start-up companies, academia, corporations, small businesses, nonprofits, private capital and government entities.
In this way, NavalX aims to build sustainable networks for collaboration and accelerate problem solving. NavalX will work with partners to support collision spaces and generate dual-use solutions. These spaces are designed to lower barriers that traditionally hamper external collaboration.
“I see these first five Tech Bridges as starting points to a much broader network, and the team here at NavalX working to leverage that,” Geurts said. “We can take the best lessons learned and connect them in the network.
“Please don’t underestimate the power of this at your local level. I’m very confident in these five locations as a foundation for us to learn from. It is tremendously powerful for the country for developing talent.”
Geurts continued, noting that this program is aimed at eliminating duplication throughout the Navy while not changing the identities of these installations.
“We’re most successful when we let these ecosystems operate organically, rather than trying to repatriate them into a new thing. Each has their own mission area and we’re not trying to get rid of that,” Geurts said. “Keep doing what you’re doing, but here’s a way to connect into the network. We’re going to empower you with more resources and best practices.”
The second piece, Geurts noted, will be structuring acquisition programs to take advantage of these ideas. He referenced as a possible example Division Newport’s Advanced Naval Technical Exercise (ANTX) 2019, which was held Aug. 29.
“As we link in ANTX from last week, if the tech bridge is active, we could structure contracts so we could take a demonstration from ANTX,” Geurts said. “You could think of it as if you develop a technology, test it out at an ANTX and then if it’s successful, you could push it ahead with an OTA (Other Transactional Authority).”
For more information on NavalX and Tech Bridges go to www.secnav.navy.mil/agility or https://www.secnav.navy.mil/agility/Pages/techbridges.aspx.
NUWC Newport is a shore command of the U.S. Navy within the Naval Sea Systems Command, which engineers, builds and supports America’s fleet of ships and combat systems. NUWC Newport provides research, development, test and evaluation, engineering and fleet support for submarines, autonomous underwater systems, undersea offensive and defensive weapons systems, and countermeasures associated with undersea warfare.
Currently celebrating its 150th anniversary, 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 Captain Michael Coughlin, NUWC Newport maintains major detachments in West Palm Beach, Fla., 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.