One of the U.S. Navy’s recently-announced tech bridges is partnering with an Indianapolis-based applied research institute. The NavalX Midwest Tech Bridge at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division has awarded its first Collaborative Project Order to the Indiana Innovation Institute. IN3 says the partnership aims to foster collaboration among universities, industry, small businesses and nonprofits to accelerate technology development.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, IN3 Chief Executive Officer Steve Kelly said the institute’s role is to assist Crane’s leadership in implementing the objectives of the tech bridge.
“It gives them an opportunity to exploit the network our team has already pulled together of universities, small companies, mid-size, large companies that want to participate more substantially in the defense marketplace,” said Kelly. “As part of the agreement, we’ll help execute a number of activities.”
Such activities will include tech demonstrations, prize challenges, hackathons and Small Business Innovation Research opportunities. IN3 says it will also facilitate engagement with local Navy and Department of Defense partners at the WestGate Academy Conference and Training Center in Odon.
NSWC Crane was chosen as one of six tech bridge sites last September by the U.S. Navy. The purpose of the regional hubs is to connect the Navy with small businesses and entrepreneurs.
IN3 says its partnership with Crane will look to further boost development of technology such as trusted microelectronics, hypersonics and electro-optics. Kelly calls the involvement of the institute an honor.
“For us, it’s another validation that IN3’s becoming an important part of the ecosystem in Indiana and the Midwest. And it’s kind of a great pat on the back from the Crane leadership that our team’s doing the right things to help them advance their mission. It melds in well with Governor Holcomb’s defense strategy – getting more (Indiana) companies involved (and) capturing more defense work.”
In a news release, Midwest Tech Bridge Regional Director Monica Hutchins called the award significant because of its ability to create new engagement pathways.
“This first Collaborative Project Order with IN3 establishes the initial Tech Bridge focus areas and external collaboration opportunities,” Hutchins said. “We will be able to engage with small businesses, non-traditional companies like start-ups, and academia outside the fence line in ways we haven’t done before. Through this project, we will be able to expand our partnership base to quickly get technology into the hands of the warfighter.”
Kelly says the short-term goal for the partnership is to get some of the initial initiatives underway, though a time frame was not available. He adds they are looking to get a collaborative workspace up and running that would allow the Navy to interface with other partners outside of the base’s gates.
Kelly says the institute’s role is to assist Crane’s leadership in implementing the objectives of the tech bridge.