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NEWS | May 9, 2022

Liberty Tech Bridge Launched in Philadelphia Area

By Gary Ell

With the signing of a partnership between three naval warfare centers, the Liberty Tech Bridge is the latest addition to the NavalX’s Tech Bridge community - a program designed to bring together regional government, industry, and academia to expand an ecosystem focused on innovation.

The Liberty Tech Bridge Launch and Charter Signing event held at Penn State at the Navy Yard campus on May 3, 2022 will enable members of the three naval warfare centers – Naval Surface Warfare Center, Philadelphia Division; Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Lakehurst; and Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific Cyber Engineering and Integration Division -- to partner effectively with industry and academia in the Philly-area “increasing collaboration, knowledge sharing, and innovation with leading-edge tech companies and innovation partners to accelerate solutions to the warfighter,” said NSWCPD Commanding Officer Capt. Dana Simon in his command remarks.

In addition to Simon, other Warfare Center representatives at the event included Cmdr. Walter Reynolds, officer in charge, NAWCAD Lakehurst; Bruce Waldron, head of the NIWC Pacific Cyber Engineering and Integration Division; Bill Leach, tech director for the Mission Operations and Integration Department, NAWCAD Lakehurst; and Ric Hagelin, branch deputy, NIWC Pacific Cyber Engineering and HLS Engineering.

The Tech Bridge initiative was created in September 2019 by the Navy’s Naval Agility Office (NavalX), with the goal of rapidly delivering innovative capabilities to service members across the globe.

“The vision of NavalX was established to drive cultural change and drive the excitement of innovation and collaboration. Once the innovation and collaboration are established, it is about delivering results,” said Principal Military Deputy, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition) Vice Adm. Francis Morley, serving as the ceremony’s keynote speaker.

Its objective: To create a collaborative environment in a commercial space where communities can easily connect and provide a space where stakeholders can share ideas and best practices, with the goal of more rapidly delivering capabilities and solutions the Navy needs.

The Tech Bridges are one of four lines of effort that fall within NavalX, enhancing collaboration between naval labs, industry, academia, and other military branches. They are designed to bridge the gap between the Navy and emerging entities such as startups, small businesses, academia, nonprofits, and private capital that aren’t traditionally part of the Navy’s development and acquisition process.

The Tech Bridge innovation pipeline provides a framework for rapidly identifying programs that can support technology transition by mapping program schedules, duration, entrance and exit criteria, etc. across the pipeline.

“Utilizing these types of efforts to bring innovation into the system and educating the system to what is available is the game. A bridge is a way to bring this type of intellectual energy into DoD,” Morley said.

Spanning Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey, the Liberty Tech Bridge is the 18th Tech Bridge within the continental United States. Named and inspired by Philadelphia’s famed Liberty Bell, the Liberty Tech Bridge’s vision is to serve as an innovation ecosystem between the U.S. Navy and industry, academia, as well as state and local governments in the region to accelerate the development and transition of innovative increases in Navy shipboard warfighting capability. Its mission is to facilitate strategic partnerships and foster activities that accelerate the creativity and innovation that improve the capability, capacity, and readiness of the Navy.

NSWCPD Engineer Mike Lavery who leads the Liberty Tech Bridge project, kicked off the launch ceremony and noted that projects like this are great for the region because they “benefit economic development and reinvigorate relationships with NSWCPD, NAWCAD, NIWC, government partners, and local universities and small businesses.”

The Liberty Tech Bridge coalition of naval stakeholders will initially focus on: data collection and analytics, cybersecurity, system sustainability, maintenance and repair, digital engineering, machinery systems and components, and metrology and rapid prototyping to expand and accelerate opportunities to harness the talent and technology in the region.

The Liberty Tech Bridge will accelerate the development and transition of innovative increases in Navy shipboard warfighting capability.

“It’s a great opportunity to spur innovation and creativity and disperse expediency in the technological advances in warfighting capability of the fleet because that is what we will need to be successful in the next conflict,” Simon said.

Of the potential for the Liberty Tech Bridge to inspire innovation, Reynolds said, “What’s so exciting to me about this Liberty Tech Bridge is your formalization of our partnership to share problems and work towards solutions. You will prove that to solve the challenges presented, we must continue to team with motivated experts in government, academia, and industry.”

Reynolds continued, “But in formalizing this partnership between three warfare centers, we acknowledge the unique and significant contributions of the warfare centers that are presented here today. Our organic capabilities, our people – our government engineers and scientists, our program managers and financial specialists, our sailors, Marines and service members -- are all capable of solving the challenges in front of us.”

“We are not leading on DoD led technology advancement. The technical advances that exist today that are driving change that are innovative on the battlespace are not coming out of government labs. The disadvantage is that the technology is accessible to others. We have to take advantage of the efforts outside of DoD and adapt them for where the real gains are today,” Morley said, noting “It is a competition. We need to be thinking about that every day. We need to do this faster, smarter and better.”