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NSWC Crane continues to foster innovation ecosystem that accelerates technology advances to warfighter

By NSWC Crane Corporate Communications | Dec. 3, 2019

CRANE, Ind. – Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) continues to foster its innovation ecosystem with partner organizations to accelerate the development and transition of technical capability to the warfighter.

NSWC Crane’s innovation ecosystem is comprised of well over 200 different organizations represented by academic institutions, industry partners, and other Governmental entities that collaborate with NSWC Crane.

Dr. Kyle Werner, the Director of Engagement at NSWC Crane, says three significant events took place in 2019 that strengthened the overall innovation ecosystem.

“2019 was a big year for NSWC Crane’s innovation ecosystem,” says Dr. Werner. “The ecosystem was validated through an academic study by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), independently endorsed by the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI), and nationally recognized by the White House as a best practice across Federal Government.”

MIT is an international leader on the topic of innovation and innovation ecosystems and the study on NSWC Crane included a series of different models to conduct mixed methods of research. According to the MIT study conclusion, NSWC Crane’s impact is across the U.S.

“The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) is successfully responding to the needs of the Department of Defense and serves as a catalyst for regional industrial development. Its ability to achieve this dual national and regional mission is an example for other laboratories in the wider Defense Laboratory Enterprise.”

Earlier this summer, representatives from the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) visited to learn more about Artificial Intelligence efforts at NSWC Crane and within the innovation ecosystem.

Following their visit to NSWC Crane, the Commission’s findings stated that “[NSWC Crane] in Indiana is a regional innovation hub” and that “…regional National Security Innovation Base hubs across the nation could adapt Crane’s model to expand public-private partnerships.”  Earlier this month the NSCAI released their interim report that included “The Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) in Crane, Indiana, has created a tech hub with substantial engineering expertise.  A recent MIT study highlighted NSWC's ability to serve DoD's engineering needs while also acting as a catalyst for economic development.  NSWC has partnered with top regional universities (Purdue, Notre Dame, and Indiana University), as well as corporations, non-profits, and state government.  The result is a strong track record of support for the Navy's strategic systems, electronic warfare, and expeditionary warfare--while spurring growth in surrounding rural areas.”

This fall, NSWC Crane representatives, along with other senior Navy and DoD leaders were invited to the White House by representatives from the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Office of the Vice President to convene a review of the MIT case study on NSWC Crane’s Innovation Ecosystem model.

“The White House event put a national spotlight on the work performed by NSWC Crane’s incredibly talented workforce and our region’s Innovation Ecosystem model as a best practice across the whole of Federal Government,” says Dr. Werner. “As a result, there have been significant opportunities for sharing of key success factors and best practices, as well as opportunities for further collaboration and expansion of NSWC Crane’s Innovation Ecosystem”.

NSWC Crane was also selected to host the NavalX Midwest Tech Bridge in September to enhance collaboration and agility throughout the Department of the Navy (DoN). Monica Hutchins, the Regional Director of Midwest Tech Bridge, says the Midwest Tech Bridge will create new opportunities for the innovation ecosystem.

“The Midwest Tech Bridge serves as a central access point for those in the current innovation ecosystem as well as innovators who have never worked with the Navy before,” says Hutchins. “The Tech Bridge will partner with start-ups, academia, corporations, small businesses, non-profits, private capital, and government entities to close the distance faster between great ideas and the warfighter. Together with the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum, we held the first Midwest NavalX Seaside Chat October 16th at Dallara Racing in Indianapolis, which brought over 160 people from all these different areas together.” 

NSWC Crane has been intentional about creating an Innovation Ecosystem of collaborative partnerships that accelerate the development and transition of technology to warfighters. These partnerships with academia, industry, public-private organizations, and entrepreneurs have not only resulted in delivery of innovative technology to warfighters, but have also significantly impacted the regional economy. Through leveraging diverse workforce expertise, state-of-the-art laboratories, and hi-technology equipment, the collective innovation ecosystem is able to provide agile, robust capability to the warfighter to better equip them with a decisive advantage over our Nation’s adversaries.

About NSWC Crane

NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with mission areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electronic Warfare. The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi- spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability to today's Warfighter.