Top naval leaders met with representatives from some of the nation's most cutting-edge small businesses this week at the Navy Opportunity Forum in Crystal City, Va., with the goal of discovering new technologies and capabilities for America's Sailors and Marines.
Included among the speakers at the annual event were the Hon. Sean Stackley (Assistant Secretary of the Navy/Research, Development and Acquisition, or ASNRDA); Vice Adm. Paul Grosklags (principal military deputy to ASNRDA); and Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, the chief of naval research.
"You understand the dynamics of today," Klunder told a packed auditorium on June 2. "It's got to be a tremendous technology, but it's got to be affordable--so then we can match it with existing or future platforms and weapons systems."
Klunder spoke as part of the panel addressing "Innovation: Roles and Opportunities for Small Business."
More than 1,000 attendees streamed through the doors on the forum's first day, Monday, June 2, with more than 175 exhibitors demonstrating technologies ranging from aerial refueling advances to submarine-based mine-hunting tools.
The event concluded yesterday, Wednesday, June 4.
Throughout the week, speakers emphasized the need for innovative technology to support the warfighter--and how the Navy's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programs are a valuable tool for the Navy and Marine Corps.
One of the desired outcomes of the forum is to pair naval needs with small business solutions--and facilitate connections between small businesses, larger companies and representatives from the acquisitions community.
"During this event, we've had over 350 individuals from the large defense contractors and over 400 from the Department of Navy directly engage with the SBIR funded firms to discuss capability needs, and affordable solutions," said John Williams, the Navy's director of SBIR and Small Business Technology Transfer programs. "It takes a team approach to bring new technologies to the warfighter and the forum is the place to make that happen."
In his remarks, Stackley noted that the Navy recognizes the vital role played by small business in advancing technologies for Sailors and Marines.
"For the past five years, the Department of the Navy has awarded over $13 billion, on average, to small businesses," noted Stackley. "That number nearly doubles when you consider the requirement for subcontracting with small businesses that are included in our major contracts."
ONR provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs more than 1,000 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.