Crucial collaboration: Expanding naval capability through ties with industry, academia
Credit: (U.S. Navy photo by Eric M. Butler/Released)
ARLINGTON, Va.–The secret sauce of successful naval acquisitions requires a vital ingredient: partnerships, particularly among government, industry and academia.
To cultivate new partnerships and enhance naval capabilities–as well as bolster existing relationships–the Department of the Navy’s (DoN) Technology Transfer (T2) Program Office recently hosted its annual gathering at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Washington.
It was the first time the event, called the Office of Research and Technology Applications (ORTA)/Legal Workshop, convened in the Pacific Northwest.
“The DoN T2 mission is to relentlessly pursue innovation by building a thriving ecosystem around naval research labs,” T2 Director Kendra Meggett-Carr told attendees. “You’re all critical to helping us advance cutting-edge technology and other capabilities to warfighters, thereby elevating their readiness and superiority.”
The DoN T2 Program Office, located at the Office of Naval Research (ONR), oversees the policies, guidance, designations and training for the DoN T2 professionals who foster collaboration between the Navy, government agencies, industry and academia. This strengthens naval capabilities and accelerates technology research and development.
To facilitate these efforts, T2 often works with leadership and legal staff from ONR and other naval organizations to enable naval laboratories to enter into research, development and educational partnership agreements.
The workshop held in Washington was the annual training for T2 staff and attorneys who oversee such agreements at various naval warfare centers and systems commands nationwide. Workshop sessions covered topics such as the different types of partnership agreements, collaborating with other technology-transfer entities in the Department of Defense, streamlining patent applications and software licensing, and prize challenges offering monetary rewards for creating innovative solutions to naval problems.
Dr. Richard Carlin, ONR’s director of technology-acceleration programs, gave the workshop’s keynote address–highlighting how T2 partnership agreements enable the Navy’s new Tech Bridges initiative.
A partnership between the Naval Expeditions Agility Office (known as NavalX), the Navy’s Systems Commands, ONR and T2, Tech Bridges serve as regional innovation hubs where warfare centers, government, academia and industry can team up and work together on technology research, evaluation and commercialization–as well as economic and workforce development.
Each hub enables local projects designed to solve pressing problems and technology needs identified by the DoN. Tech Bridges are located in Rhode Island, Washington, California, Florida, Indiana and South Carolina.
Carlin stressed the important role of T2 staff in facilitating partnership agreements.
“You allow the Navy to engage in outreach with local communities, understand the complexities of legal and contracting authorities, and promote the development and evaluation of naval technology,” he said.
Carlin also highlighted multiple naval initiatives benefiting from T2 involvement, including:
–The Accelerated Delivery and Acquisition of Prototype Technologies, known as ADAPT, engages small-business technology providers and educates them on naval priorities. Carlin wants to cultivate partners with existing technology prototypes that have been proven to work and can be adapted to naval needs–in under two years.
–The Naval Enterprise Partnership Teaming with Universities for National Entrepreneurship (NEPTUNE) initiative provides funding to multiple civilian universities, the U.S. Naval Academy and the Naval Postgraduate School. NEPTUNE’s goals are to establish entrepreneurial practices to accelerate delivery of university-derived technologies and products to the Navy and Marine Corps–while giving active-duty military students and veterans the chance to immerse themselves in university-level research.
–The Navy’s Small Business Innovation Research program has simplified its process for requesting scientific or research proposals in areas of naval interest under its Naval Technology Acceleration pilot. The mission: Expand the breadth of small business supporting naval missions and speed up technology development and delivery.
When asked what he thought about the T2 ORTA/Legal Workshop, Stephen McKee, a team lead at Naval Undersea Warfare Center Keyport Division, said, “Hosting the workshop here in the Pacific Northwest was deliberate, as the opportunities stemming from T2 authorities are being used by the local commands to improve mission accomplishment, transform current processes and keep our Navy agile.”