Army takes xTechSearch 2.0 to Chicago

March 19, 2019

By ARMY RESEARCH LABORATORY PUBLIC AFFAIRS

ADELPHI, Md. (March 19, 2019)  The U.S. Army hosted a series of pitches in Chicago, at its second Expeditionary Technology Search competition, known as xTechSearch 2.0, as a catalyst to engage with the non-traditional small-business sector, to drive American innovation for Army challenges and spur economic growth.

xTechSearch mirrors entrepreneurial pitch competitions where aspiring entrepreneurs make innovative proposals to panels of investors, who then choose whether to invest as business partners. xTechSearch is a key Army initiative to uncover novel science and technology solutions by engaging with small businesses and non-traditional partners.

The event follows its predecessor launched earlier this year, in which more than 350 companies participated from across the United States. xTechSearch 2.0 will continue the forward-leaning initiative to attract game-changing innovation to the Army by leveraging a competition where companies pitch novel technology solutions directly to Army leadership.

The Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology), also known as ASA(ALT), launched the nationwide competitions to revolutionize the way the Army attracts and encourages innovation.

"xTechSearch was designed as a vehicle to deliberately engage with non-traditional companies that typically look at the government as a customer and see red tape and a limited return on investment," said Matt Willis, Director for Laboratory Management, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army, Research and Technology, ASA(ALT). "Our goal is to get the innovation community cognizant about Army research and development problems and apply their unique technologies to modernize the Army."

Pete Lohr of Advanced Hydrogen Technologies in North Carolina, traveled to Chicago to pitch his capability to improve Next Generation Combat Vehicles with lightweight and advanced projectile-neutralizing armor, and was one of the small businesses selected to move to the next round of the competition. He developed a first-of-its-kind capability to molecularly bond carbide or ceramics to metals, enabling design trade-offs to either increase strength or reduce weight of defensive materials.

Lohr spoke about a defensive technology he previously developed that was deployed in battle, which had personal significance, as his son is currently in the Army and was deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"You become an engineer so you can use your skills to better mankind," Lohr said. "To that point, I felt like my mission was achieved. With this armor, I want to go further than that."

Zeke Topolosky from the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command's Army Research Laboratorythe Army's corporate laboratory, known as ARLis one of the competition coordinators and spoke about the interaction between businesses and the Army.

"It is great to see the face-to-face interaction with the Army that we are offering these small businesses through xTechSearch," Topolosky said. "Regardless of whether they win, the contestants are finding tremendous value in pitching their technology ideas directly to members of the Army S&T, acquisition, and Warfighter communities. The feedback they receive goes a long way to helping them better understand Army priorities and requirements and help shape their products."

A total of eight businesses had the opportunity to pitch their capabilities in Chicago, home of the ARL Central regional office. These regional sites accelerate discovery, innovation, and transition of science and technology to the Army through forging strategic regional partnerships via the Army's Open Campus Business Model.

"It's great to see the xTechSearch competition housed at ARL Central with our partner, the University of Chicago and their Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation," said Dr. Mark Tschopp, Regional Lead for ARL Central. "The opportunity to interact with entrepreneurs from non-traditional small businesses and startups brings new ideas to the table that can affect the Army's modernization priorities. This event also allows us to communicate the Army needs and how to better work with us, while also learning from small businesses about their technology, their challenges, and what they find exciting about changes happening within the Army."

The winning companies selected from the Next Generation Combat Vehicle pitches include Advanced Hydrogen Technologies Corporation; Great Lakes Sound and Vibration, Inc.; MELD Manufacturing Corporation; and Sphere Brake Defense, LLC

For information about the program please visit this link.

The Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics & Technology) provides the American Soldier with a decisive advantage in any mission by developing, acquiring, fielding, and sustaining the world's finest equipment and services; and by leveraging technologies and capabilities to meet current and future Army needs.

 

Last Update / Reviewed: March 19, 2019