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Navy establishes Tech Bridge in Charleston to speed innovation

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The Naval Agility Office has established a Palmetto Tech Bridge in Charleston to facilitate projects that work to solve problems and technology challenges identified by fleet and Navy workforce.

The Palmetto Tech Bridge is under the coordination of Naval Information Warfare Center Atlantic. It is the sixth bridge established under the Naval Agility Office since Sept. 3. Others are in Rhode Island, Washington, California, Florida and Indiana.

James Geurts, the Navy’s assistant secretary for research, development and acquisition, said the Tech Bridges program is designed to capture the culture of innovation in locations across the nation.

“This endeavor is a combined effort between the Office of Naval Research and the Navy’s systems commands to connect, reinforce and sustain acceleration ecosystems to enable key partnerships,” Geurts said in a news release. “Tech Bridges will establish off-base, collaborative spaces that will bring together all parts of our workforce with startups, small businesses, traditional companies and academia.”

Geurts said the establishment of Tech Bridges is a positive step to better connect the Navy and the private sector. Michael Merriken, director of Palmetto Tech Bridge, said NIWC Atlantic will work to build products and solutions that serve the dual purpose of meeting national defense needs and adding to the region’s economy through commercial use.

Once it is up and running, Palmetto Tech Bridge will collaborate with startups, academia, corporations, small businesses, nonprofits and private capital, the release said.

“We’re excited that NIWC Atlantic was chosen to lead this critical innovation endeavor through the Palmetto Tech Bridge,” said Capt. Wes Sanders, commanding officer of NIWC Atlantic. “This bridge will play a crucial role in executing the necessary work to not only improve our pivot speed but also provide the at-scale agility required by the Department of Navy.”

The Tech Bridges will operate like franchises, with each region developing its own model.

Merriken’s team will spend the next month identifying regular meeting spaces to host Palmetto Tech Bridge events for government and industry partners.

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December 03, 2019

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