Defense innovation continues to thrive in North Carolina. More than 200 members of the North Carolina Innovation Ecosystem (NCIE) participated in a Defense Technology Symposium (DTS) on 26 July at Fayetteville Technical Community College.
The North Carolina Defense Technology Transition Office (DEFTECH) organized the event that was hosted by the Offices of US Senator Richard Burr and US Senator Thom Tillis, Fayetteville Technical Community College, North Carolina Board of Science, Technology & Innovation, and North Carolina Military Business Center (NCMBC).
The DTS brought together defense, academia and industry leaders and practitioners to discuss advanced technology needs of the Department of Defense (DoD) and the correlating capabilities of the innovation ecosystem in North Carolina and the Southeast. DTS also provided a venue to establish and strengthen collaboration and partnerships among the attendees to address the future technology needs of America’s warfighters.
Another novel aspect of the DTS was the opportunity for industry partners to briefly “pitch” their solutions to a large audience. DEFTECH screened and selected participants from companies that participate in DEFTECH’s on-going “Tech Scouting” program called “T.I.D.E.” (Technology, Innovation, Demonstration and Experimentation). Additionally, DEFTECH consolidated all of the TIDE quad chart submissions into a packet and provided to government attendees for their reference.
General Andrew P. Poppas, Commanding General of the US Army Forces Command, kicked-off the day and provided insightful comments on readiness, leadership and innovation. He made the point that the soldier is the key “technology” on the battlefield and all other technologies must support the soldier. Introductory remarks were also offered by the Association of the United States Army; Dr. J. Larry Keen, President of Fayetteville Technical Community College; MG (Ret) Al Aycock, President of the Ft Bragg AUSA Chapter; and Scott Dorney, Executive Director of NCMBC.
State government representatives contributed to several presentations that highlighted strong support for North Carolina’s growing defense innovation and high-tech sectors. Briefings included an overview, by DEFTECH, of a state-wide campaign named “NC – Frontline of the Future.” The presentation offered compelling facts about North Carolina’s thriving dual-use innovation ecosystem, its deep and long-standing DoD/industry/academic partnerships and the State’s expansive commitment to national defense. Additionally, leaders from the North Carolina Board of Science, Technology and Innovation and Department of Commerce explained the State’s unique program of providing matching funds for small business innovation research projects.
During lunch, Senator Tillis provided a keynote address, including informative responses to audience questions. Mr. Jared Summers, XVIII Airborne Corps’ Chief Technology Officer, provided a briefing on the Corps’ evolving innovation culture and its Artificial Intelligence initiatives.
The remainder of the sessions featured interactive panel discussions. The Army Research Office’s Senior Scientist led the first panel that included speakers from the University of North Carolina System and Duke University who provided examples of on-going Science and Technology (S&T) and Research & Development (R&D) programs and partnerships with defense and other federal agencies.
A second panel discussion provided DTS participants a better understanding of DoD innovation needs and organizations. Fort Bragg’s XVIII Airborne Corps Innovation Officer shared details about the Corps’ initiatives. Other DoD participants included Army Futures Command, Army Applications Lab and the Defense Innovation Unit who addressed their organization’s processes and requirements.
The final panel focused on warfighter technology and needs, and included senior representatives from the Joint Special Operations Command, US Army Special Operations Command, Office of Naval Research liaison to the 2d Marine Expeditionary Force, the National Security Innovation Network, the US Air Force’s AFWERX and the Fort Bragg Research Institute at Womack Army Hospital.
Plans are being developed for DTS 2023.
As an entity of the State of North Carolina, and subsidiary of the NCMBC, DEFTECH provides a free service that connects its innovation ecosystem (businesses, universities, community colleges, public/private partnerships, investors and North Carolina military bases) with emerging and urgent technology requirements across the DoD and Homeland Security to provide solutions for our country’s most pressing needs. For additional information about the DEFTECH and its T.I.D.E program, visit: https://deftech.nc.gov.
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