401 Tech Bridge partners with the U.S. Navy to accelerate technical advantage

401 Tech Bridge was the first entity to partner with the Department of the Navy’s NavalX Tech Bridge initiative, and our collaboration is now a national model for the twelve Naval X Tech Bridge sites across the country. We are the hub for  NavalX North East Tech Bridge activities, building partnerships to innovate in the Navy’s focus areas: maritime composites and textiles, undersea vehicles, sensors, and technologies.

401 Tech Bridge, a nonprofit economic development organization, serves as a super-connector, reaching deep into the Navy, small business, government, and academic communities to make connections and foster collaboration, helping the U.S. Navy expand their technical advantage and accelerating solutions to the war fighter.

Examples of our recent collaborations with the NavalX North East Tech Bridge include:

Naval Prize Challenges

401 Tech Bridge and the Naval X Northeast Tech Bridge collaborated with Navy engineers to identify engineering challenges and created three competitive prize challenges. When the Navy’s NIPA challenge was released nationally in 2019, 401 Tech Bridge hosted informational sessions for small and nontraditional businesses with a knack for innovation, during which Navy engineers discussed the technical briefs and answered questions. The Navy ultimately awarded $250,000 each to three companies, two of which, Response Technologies and Goetz Composites, are based in Rhode Island.  401 Tech Bridge is currently collaborating with Naval X Northeast Tech Bridge to create two new prize challenges that will be released in 2021.

Naval X Tech Bridge organizations across the country are developing prize challenges based on the needs in their region. Currently open prize challenges include:
Palmetto Tech Bridge Prize Challenge 2021
• NSWC Crane AISUM Prize Challenge
• Fleet Visual Information Capture Challenge

Expanding understanding of Navy Contracting Mechanisms

Working with Naval X, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport, the Rhode Island Procurement Technical Assistance Center, the Southeastern New England Defense Industry Alliance (SENEDIA) and Rhode Island Commerce, 401 Tech Bridge helps small and nontraditional businesses understand the Navy’s contracting mechanisms and learn about business opportunities. We hosted a two-part webinar to explain the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, and to review the details of Navy, Marine and Air Force SBIR releases with technical experts.

Connecting Small Businesses to Opportunities

In 2021, we’ll host Virtual Demo Day and Tech Showcase events, where companies can present their capabilities to an audience of defense contractors who are looking for new R&D partnerships or supply chain partners.

Helping Domestic Manufacturers Remain Competitive & Grow

401 Tech Bridge connects growing companies with the services they need to remain competitive and grow, whether it’s support from Polaris MEP to improve quality systems or comply with the DFARS cybersecurity requirements; with PTAC to understand government contracts; with faculty at the University of Rhode Island and other regional universities for help developing, testing  and validating solutions; and with opportunities to find dual-use applications for technology developed with the Navy.  401 Tech Bridge increases the capabilities of the Rhode Island maritime manufacturing community, culminating in fertile ground for collaboration on Navy challenges.

Capt. Michael R. Coughlin, Commanding Officer, Naval Undersea Warfare Center and Christian Cowan, director at Polaris MEP, complete the ceremonial signing of the Partnership Intermediary Agreement for the 401 Tech Bridge Advanced Materials Center, Monday at Innovate Newport. [DAVE HANSEN PHOTO]

“The warfare centers recognize that to be successful, whether it is on a submarine, on a ship or solving a technical challenge, you need a good team. We realize that expanding the advantage means reaching out beyond our Navy partners, warfare centers and traditional defense contractors. We need our team to include small businesses and educational institutions that don’t traditionally work with the Navy.”
— Capt. Michael Coughlin, Commanding Officer, Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport