Hawaiʻi Tech Bridge

A Solution Provider for the U.S. Navy

With seven active fleets comprised of over 290 combat vessels, more than 3,700 operational aircraft and over 336,000 active duty personnel—the United States Navy is one of the most powerful fighting forces in the world. At a moment’s notice, its forces can be rapidly deployed to cover any global hotspot.

However, a regional private sector company with innovative solutions looking to do business with the U.S. Navy might find the task of navigating a floating minefield easier than getting to the right decision-maker in the confusing and overwhelming layers of commands, departments and units.

To help bridge this gap, the Naval Agility Office (NavalX) was established to help facilitate the rapid adoption of proven agility enhancing methods for the U.S. Navy and to establish regional “tech bridges” in strategic locations across the country to better connect naval entities with the private sector. Since 2019, Tech Bridges have facilitated $45 million in project funding to solve problems facing the Navy, sponsored $37 million in small business innovation research (SBIR) for maintenance/sustainment, awarded over $2 million in prize challenges to non-traditional industry partners, and aided in the distribution of over $800,000 in COVID-19 response efforts. There are currently 15 Tech Bridges, with the recent addition of Hawai‘i and the Gulf Coast.

“NavalX Tech Bridges are designed to increase collaboration, knowledge sharing and innovation with leading-edge tech companies and innovation partners to accelerate solutions for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps,” said National Tech Bridge Director Whitney Tallarico. “Tech Bridges serve within the growing ecosystem of the U.S. Department of Defense’s innovation groups—Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), National Security Innovation Network (NSIN), U.S. Army Futures Command, AFWERX, SOFWERX—which helps to strengthen NavalX’s overarching ability to connect people, companies, and technology solutions.”

The Hawaiʻi Tech Bridge is assigned to the Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Pacific, Indo-Pacific Department Navy lab located in Pearl City, O‘ahu. Led by Neal Miyake, director and local business deputy, the Tech Bridge is concentrating its efforts on the following focus areas: command and control, communications, computers/networking, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, cyber defense, space systems and resilience—with a specific focus on energy resilience. Support will also be provided by the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Detachment Pacific (NUWC Pacific) based at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor.

Hawaiʻi Tech Bridge Director Neal Miyake outlines his vision of this new initiative

“The vision of the Hawaiʻi Tech Bridge is to establish an innovation ecosystem in Hawai‘i where the Department of Defense, private industry, academia, state and local governments can collaborate to solve Navy and Marine Corps needs, while being mutually beneficial to all,” said Miyake, a homegrown product and graduate of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa College of Engineering. “Hawai‘i is an ideal location for a Tech Bridge due to its proximity to the Indo-Pacific region, its major military commands, a flourishing local technology sector, and a world-class academic/research institution in the University of Hawai‘i.”

Miyake added that the efforts of the Hawai‘i Tech Bridge will include collaborative sessions with partner organizations, prize challenge competitions, connecting small businesses with available opportunities and enabling local talent and technologies to actively participate in naval exercises and experimentation. Current partners include the University of Hawai‘i Office of Innovation and Commercialization and the Hawaiʻi Technology Development Corporation (HTDC)—whose 13,500 square foot facility known as the Entrepreneurs Sandbox, serves as the off-base, co-working space for Hawaiʻi Tech Bridge.

“We are excited about our partnership with the Hawaiʻi Tech Bridge and are pleased that our Entrepreneurs Sandbox is playing a key role in this program,” said HTDC Acting Executive Director Len Higashi. “These are the types of programs and initiatives that we look for in our efforts to develop a technology industry that provides quality, high-paying jobs for Hawai‘i’s residents.”

Future partnerships are in the works to include the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command; Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet; and Marine Corps Forces, Pacific.  “Through our lens, the Hawaiʻi Tech Bridge is a win-win situation for everyone involved,” said Interim Director Steve Auerbach of the UH Office of Innovation and Commercialization. “A path has now been cleared for local companies, startups, researchers and students to apply their unique skill sets and technical knowledge to not only aid in our country’s defense, but also to help diversify the state’s economy through the development of a tech-based sector.”