Navy adds to Tech Bridge network

Published 7:00 am Friday, December 11, 2020

The U.S. Navy announced two new additions to its Tech Bridge network, including a Gulf Coast Tech Bridge and a Tech Bridge location in Hawaii.

The Tech Bridges are meant make it easier for the Navy to collaborate with non-traditional partners, whether they are start-ups, partners in academia, small businesses, corporations or nonprofits.

Unlike other Tech Bridges, the Gulf Coast Tech Bridge will span four states, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. The Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division, the Naval Research Lab, Stennis and the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command are leading the Tech Bridge.

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Because the Navy is a large institution, Tech Bridges are meant to make it easier for people with ideas to get connected to the right person within the institution, said James Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for Research Development and Acquisition in a press conference Wednesday. Having to search for and cold call someone within the Navy can be a disincentive to getting the right ideas to the right person, he said.

The first Tech Bridges were established in 2019, and with the two additions there are now 15 Tech Bridges. The network has been leveraged during the COVID-19 pandemic to help with the rapid sharing of PPE designs and manufacture of COVID related supplies for communities and public shipyards, said Geurts.

Normally with a Tech Bridge, a director is placed, then they are linked to existing local, regional and state resources, said Geurts.

The Gulf Coast Tech Bridge Director is Holly Gardner, who is also the Director of Strategy and Engagement at Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division.

The Gulf Coast Tech Bridge is focused on growing coastal science, unmanned vehicle development, hosting industry events and expanding strategic partnerships, said Gardner. Focuses include coastal sciences and technology, assured maritime access and operational meteorology and oceanography.

The Tech Bridges are not using new resources, but are trying to increase the efficiency of the $2 billion that the Navy already spends on basic and applied sciences, said Geurts.

The Gulf Coast Tech Bridge will host an informal virtual event on Dec. 15 at 11:30 a.m. central time over social media to answer specific questions from local stakeholders.