About the NavalX SoCal Tech Bridge
Define the future, and change the world.
What is NavalX SoCal Tech Bridge?
NavalX, the Department of Defense supported innovation and agility cell for initiatives across the Marine Corps and Navy, developed 15 Tech Bridges as collaborative spaces to bring together thought leaders and resources of industry, academia, and government. Of these, the Southern California unit - SoCal Tech Bridge - has been a galvanizing force in bridging the civilian to federal gap.
SoCal Tech Bridge partnered with the Marine Corps Installation Command to support its next generation installation operating concept - Installation neXt. These entities, together with corporate, federal, and local partners, have advocated technological advancement and new approaches in a variety of forums. New technologies and practices will be established both home and abroad - from secure, permanent bases to remote and forward battlefields. The technical focus areas - installation protection, resilience, mobility, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and autonomous systems - are woven throughout the collaborative efforts and vision.
Work began several years ago under the aegis of the Future Unmanned Logistics Systems (ULS) Energy Logistics Enabling Distributed Operations program, or FUELED Ops, sponsored by the Operational Energy Capability Innovation Fund (OECIF) under the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment. The goal of FUELED Ops is to bridge the technological visionaries of the private sector to our nation’s military leaders and planners - focusing on leveraging commercial innovation and technological advancements to better understand how operational energy and unmanned logistics systems might improve effectiveness on future battlefields. Installation neXt and the SoCal Tech Bridge leverage the Southern California ecosystem assets of installations, industry, and research to unlock emerging technology through non-traditional partnerships.
Present State - 2023
Over time, the SoCal Tech Bridge has continued its necessary evolution. By its very definition, the Tech Bridges must be flexible and adaptive to the needs of the services, the combatant commanders, and the warfighters themselves. Whether we bring technology into a community for cultural integration, or we bring warfighters to the many resources available to bring their ideas into the design cycle, the Tech Bridge must understand the ecosystem and provide navigation for all users. SoCal Tech Bridge will be fluid in its approach to the ecosystem.
Moving forward, while the SoCal Tech Bridge will support, as possible, a diversity of efforts, there will be a
distinct theme related to Installation Resilience. Resilience is defined in DODD 4715.21 as, “the ability to anticipate, prepare for, and adapt to changing conditions and withstand, respond to, and recover rapidly from disruptions." The ability of our installations and the equipment and personnel they support has become a focus point of the military, after years of inadequate support and resourcing. Installations must be more than just a place the military “parks its equipment and personnel.”
Installations can, and should, become their own resilient ecosystems. The SoCal Tech Bridge will focus on how a variety of emerging technologies, like 5G and renewable hydrogen energy, can be integrated into our installation framework moving forward.
From DODD 4715.21
Theories, data, analyses, models, projections, scenarios, and tools that are:
Relevant to the decision under consideration.
Reliable in terms of its scientific or engineering basis and appropriate level of peer review. Understandable to those making the decision.
Supportive of decisions across wide spatial, temporal, and organizational ranges, including those of time-sensitive operational and capital investment decision-making.
Co-produced by scientists, practitioners, and decision-makers and result in rigorous and accessible products to meet the needs of stakeholders.
SoCal Tech Bridge
Steering Committee Members
The SoCal Tech Bridge is a Team of Visionaries, Motivators, and Innovation Leaders
The Steering Committee is the top-level governing body that is formed to provide direction and execution of the SoCal TB strategic portfolios. Together the Steering Committee's overall goal is to demonstrate innovative opportunities working with non-traditional partners and to be the thought leaders of strategic technologies. The Steering Committee believes in iterative design, identify aspirational visions and create a minimum viable product that can be implemented by DoN and Marine Corps. The Steering Committee will maintain oversight over the NextStep Pilot Leads, NextSource non-profit, and the NextStrategy contractor ensuring unity of effort. The Steering Committee will follow the established strategic organizational model below:
The mission of NavalX is to create organizational agility by empowering the workforce to solve problems and helps build partnerships and networks to enable greater collaboration on warfighter needs. A Core Line of Effort (LOE) under NavalX are the Tech Bridges (TB). The Department of the Navy established the Tech Bridges to increase collaboration, knowledge sharing and innovation with leading-edge tech companies and innovation partners to accelerate solutions to the warfighter.
The NavalX Tech Bridges are a connected network that enhances collaboration between Naval Labs, industry, academia, and other military branches. A NavalX Tech Bridge offers a collaboration space in a commercial business space, rather than on base. An off base location offers a more easily accessible landing spot to foster a collaboration ecosystem to build productive partnerships and accelerate delivery of dual use solutions to the warfighter. A NavalX Tech Bridge offers access to State and Local government and academic agencies creating a richer regional innovation ecosystem and further supporting economic development.
This interactive, iterative approach is leading to the development of a new business model between the Marine Corps and the commercial sector. Virtual efforts are converging with real world demonstration, creating robust, interactive feedback loops that will revolutionize future processes. Proven technology aboard MCAS Miramar is not only almost immediately applicable to other military installations, but has the potential to profoundly impact people and places across a much more expansive spectrum.
The SoCal Tech Bridge NextStrategy model has an operational philosophy that is a profound paradigm shift from traditional Research and Development (R&D) practices. In the past, the Department of Defense has driven the train; shaping and setting technological program goals and vision based on its overarching planning considerations and objectives. In turn, the efforts of the commercial market branched from this foundation. This is no longer a viable strategy as commercial R&D outpaces the federal sector at a ratio of 4:1.
Commercial industry has a speed and agility that far surpasses its federal industry counterpart. It is driven by a capitalist market system that quickly delineates winning and losing propositions and acts accordingly: good ideas are rewarded, and bad ideas die. SoCal Tech Bridge and NextStrategy understand this rapidity and clarity of action within the commercial environment are a much better fomenter of innovation. The defense industry’s utilization of commercial R&D to shape its market goals will be both a much-needed catalyst and disrupter to traditional models.
Smart Installations - MCAS Miramar
This progressive effort paralleled the promotion of smart installations, where technology is being used to improve programs and processes aboard military installations. Opportunities on MCAS Miramar have included the pilot testing of autonomous vehicles, drones, and commercial platforms; leveraging the military base’s hybrid power grid to augment city power during shortages; providing enhanced base security and resiliency operations; and comprehensive resiliency and mobility studies and exercises that include military and civilian stakeholders. The end state is to increase efficiency, improve operations, conserve resources, and support testing and development for outside deployment. MCAS Miramar is the first 5G enabled military base in the United States, and a pilot site for 5G technologies. The base is designated a 5G Living Lab, deployed in partnership with Verizon, where new ideas and technologies from the private sector can be tested, evaluated, and refined.