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CRANE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division is looking to help its scientists commercialize their technologies. The installation is partnering with The Mill in Bloomington and others to launch the PROPELS Accelerator, which is designed to provide entrepreneurs and small businesses the opportunity to bring patented government technology to market.

“We’ve noticed that over the years, we haven’t had a real strong connection with the local entrepreneur ecosystem,” said Jenna Dix, director of technology transfer at NSWC Crane. “Having the opportunity to work with The Mill…gives us a new community to talk to about Crane and Crane-developed technologies.”

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Dix said it’s sometimes difficult to translate what’s being done at Crane to the entrepreneurial community.

“We find in a lot of cases, we have a lot of really interesting technologies that we’ve developed, but maybe we’re not using them; they got to a certain point and then they sit on the shelf,” said Dix. “We need partners to help us actually get those products to a point where they can be bought back by the DoD and also sold in the commercial market.”

The accelerator was also developed in collaboration with strategic advisory firm Dioltas and the nonprofit Defense Entrepreneurs Forum.

The program will begin April 14 with a Tech Expo at The Mill in which Crane scientists will present their technologies and explain how they’re being used by the Navy. Some of the tech includes long-range heat detection, assistive devices for low-light emergency response, and drone tracking technology.

The participants in the PROPELS Accelerator will select one of the showcased technologies and work to develop a commercialization plan for a new product or platform over a six-week period.

“Our goal with that, really, is to either see current businesses use some of this really cutting-edge technology in a new way or to supplement the way the work that they’re doing, or potentially even spin up some new startup companies around this technology as well,” Andy Lehman, head of accelerator programming at The Mill, told IIB. “We’ll take them through our usual foundational entrepreneurial programming. They’ll get plugged in here with our network of mentors and entrepreneurs.”

Dix says working with entrepreneurs and small businesses is the “sweet spot” for Crane, particularly as part of Governor Eric Holcomb’s push for more innovation in the defense sector.

The Office of Naval Research provided funding for the program as a pilot. Dix says the accelerator has the potential to continue for years to come and expand beyond Crane to other Naval labs.

“This particular program is really the first of its kind,” she said. “I think the desire is that as we go into this tech demo and the accelerator program and then the Radius pitch competition, we’ll really start to see where things really work and what audiences we’re getting at because I think through this, we’re introducing a lot of new networks of people that we haven’t generally had a good line of communication with.”

The accelerator will run from May 4 through June 17 and culminate with the participants pitching their ideas and compete for prizes at the Radius Indiana Crane IP Defense Innovation competition.

You can learn more about the PROPELS Accelerator by clicking here.

CRANE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division has launched an artificial intelligence research and workforce development initiative in partnership with three Hoosier universities. The installation says the effort aims to produce the next generation of AI talent for the military and government.

NSWC Crane is partnering with Indiana University, the University of Notre Dame and Purdue University on the Trusted AI initiative, which is part of the federally-funded Scalable Asymmetric Lifecycle Engagement workforce development program. Chief Technology Officer Robert Walker says the initiative has been adapted to meet the needs of the U.S. Department of Defense and the Defense Industrial Base.

“The Trusted AI SCALE program combines research and workforce development based on the unique needs of the DoD based on recommendations from the DIB,” said Walker. “By working directly with the academic partners, we are giving students real technical and warfighter challenges that a typical undergraduate education doesn’t include in its curriculum. This is a high payoff effort, and we are excited to work with IU, Notre Dame and Purdue as the program grows.”

The installation says the initiative will involve immersive research and development, student training and educational pathways that align curriculum, research and internships. 

“Artificial intelligence has tremendous potential to benefit the defense and security of the United States,” said Peter Bermel, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University. “Fielding useful AI systems requires us to simultaneously develop new tools while training new personnel. In this project, we will have the opportunity to perform interdisciplinary research in AI, train new students, and connect them with government and defense industry employers, to help address the major workforce challenges in the field.” 

Dr. Kara Perry, education and workforce development co-lead for the Trusted & Assured Microelectronics program at NSWC Crane, says the installation hopes to eventually scale the initiative to bring more universities on board.

CRANE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division is extending its partnership with the Indiana Innovation Institute (IN3) to manage the NavalX Midwest Tech Bridge. The Collaborative Project Order, which will be in effect for another year, is designed to foster collaboration among universities, industry, small businesses and nonprofits to accelerate technology development.

The partnership was first formed in January 2020, just months after NSWC Crane was selected as one of several NavalX Tech Bridge sites. The tech bridges were established as regional hubs to connect U.S. Navy resources with small businesses and entrepreneurs.

“The Midwest Tech Bridge encompasses a vibrant innovation ecosystem aligned to Navy and Marine Corps interests, and our work with IN3 helps ensure that we can strengthen and expand that ecosystem by sharpening our focus and creating an environment that encourages and supports external collaborations,” Anne Fields, Midwest Tech Bridge regional director, said in a news release. “We look forward to continuing our work with IN3 to increase access and leverage efforts across the region to quickly create and deploy the technology needed by our warfighters.”

IN3 says it has helped the Midwest Tech Bridge in various ways, including organization tech demonstrations, prize challenges, hackathons and Small Business Innovation Research opportunities. The institute says it will continue to facilitate engagement with local Navy and Department of Defense partners, industry and academia.

“Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, in our first year we saw significant growth in the number of industry, academic and government partners, which equates to more opportunities to support the Navy by matching the expertise that exists regionally and statewide to the technology needs that align to the Navy’s critical missions,” said Stephen Kelly, chief executive officer of IN3. “We look forward to the opportunity to expand those successes by building on the collaborative base we have built over the past year.”

As part of the extended Collaborative Project Order, IN3 says it will continue to provide support in five main areas: ecosystem development and events; an ecosystem toolbox; collaboration space; a technology solution pipeline; and portfolio management and commercialization development.

CRANE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Crane Division has named Dr. Angie Lewis as its new technical director, which makes her the first female to hold the position. Lewis will serve as senior civilian at Crane, which has more than 3,800 military and government civilians supporting the Navy’s acquisition engineering and technical support.

Lewis has been in various roles at Crane for 13 years, most recently serving as the business director and corporate operations department manager

“As our nation faces some of the toughest challenges we have seen in recent memory, the expertise of our workforce in Strategic Missions, Expeditionary Warfare, and Electronic Warfare will remain a critical component to ensuring the future security of our country. As the first woman to serve in this role, I understand what this milestone represents to future generations and young girls interested in STEM and business fields. It will take passionate people from diverse backgrounds to meet future mission needs”, said Lewis.

Lewis has also served as acting technical director at Crane, overseeing component and system level product engineering. 

“It is my goal to ensure the experts at NSWC Crane have the tools they need to be successful to ensure our Warfighters can do their jobs and come home safe,” said Dr. Lewis.

CRANE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – The U.S. Department of Defense has awarded a $10.4 million contract to Jasper-based Krempp Construction Inc. The contract calls for construction of a railcar holding yard at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division in southern Indiana.

The DoD says all work will be performed in Crane.

The department says the railcar site work will include demolition of the existing buildings and site features, including docks, ramp retaining walls and rail track. Work will also include signage and pavement work.

Work is expected to be completed by October 2022. The contracting activity is Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Mid-Atlantic in Norfolk, Virginia.

CRANE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The U.S. Navy has awarded a $133 million contract to Virginia-based Science Applications International Corp. (NYSE: SAIC). The contract calls for the company to provide mission engineering and integration services at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division, where it employs some 550 workers.

SAIC is tasked with delivering engineering, technical support, analysis and modeling, studies, inventory and logistics, and quality assurance services in support of tactical intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems at the Maneuver, Engagement and Surveillance Systems Division at NSWC.

The one-year contract comes with four one-year options. SAIC says the contract covers a variety of technological areas, including tactical communications, mobility platforms, and software development.

The contract comes less than a week after the U.S. Department of Defense awarded SAIC an $85 million contract boost for the production of torpedo equipment and support. More than half of the work on the contract will be performed in Indiana.

CRANE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division has named Captain Duncan McKay the Commanding Officer. NSWC Crane held a ceremony on Wednesday to mark the announcement.

McKay is a native of Florida and has a 24-year naval career. He most recently served as the operations officer at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine.

“It is an honor to lead the expert workforce at NSWC Crane,” said McKay. “Crane is recognized for their technical expertise and support of the fleet in Strategic Missions, Electronic Warfare and Expeditionary Warfare. I am thrilled to lead such a dedicated workforce who ensure the rapidly evolving needs of the warfighter are met every day.”

McKay’s naval career began in 1996 and has included deployments to the North Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf. You can read more about his career by clicking here.

CRANE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Five Hoosier companies are each receiving a $17.5 million contract from the U.S. Department of Defense. The contracts, one of which is also being awarded to a New Jersey company, call for the production of build-to-print machined parts for various military projects.

The companies include J&R Tool Inc. and Loughmiller Machine Tool & Die, both based in Loogootee, as well as MSP Aviation Inc. and Specialty CNC Inc., both based in Bloomington. Springville-based Embree Machine Inc. was also awarded a contract.

The parts being produced through the contracts are used in military projects such as the fixed forward firing weapons and interface unit automatic processor systems used in military helicopters.

The DoD says the contracts include options which could bring the total value of each contract to $35 million. Work on the contracts is expected to be complete by June 2025 or June 2030, if the options are picked up.

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division is the contracting activity.

CRANE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – The Technology Transfer Office at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division says it is now offering its library of over 300 patented technologies to interested businesses. The Naval base says it intends for businesses and entrepreneurs to utilize its technologies to help protect Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic and support economic growth.

The Technology Transfer Office says it has been authorized to negotiate royalty-free patent license agreements at a reduced price.

NSWC Crane says it has technology transfer partnerships with more than 100 businesses, individuals, and universities, helping link federal research and development to academic institutions and businesses in the private sector.

The Navy lab intends for businesses and entrepreneurs to utilize its technologies to help protect Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic and to support job and economic growth.

Montana-based TechLink is providing on-call certified licensing professionals for businesses pursuing patent license agreements.

“We’re in it to help any way we can,” said Sean Patten, senior technology manager at TechLink.

You can find more information or view the patent portfolio by clicking here.

CRANE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane and the Office of Naval Research are offering a cash prize for a method to reduce the hazards of transporting small amounts of lithium batteries. The $750,000 challenge is the first for NSWC Crane, with open applications until May 7.

“The Department of Defense needs a safe and easy way to carry medium-sized lithium batteries aboard ships, along with other potential defense and commercial applications,” said NSWC Crane engineer Sam Stuart, a lead on the project. “This challenge will bring bright ideas and new innovations to solve this lithium battery problem for our warfighters – and maybe for us civilian travelers, as well!”

Lithium batteries in cargo holds are a fire hazard for commercial and military transportation and NSWC Crane is seeking development of a containment system to carry the batteries to mitigate the hazards. 

“With this Prize Challenge, we hope to attract ideas and technology to solve some of our most pressing obstacles,” said Anne Fields, Midwest Tech Bridge director. “Working together with our Innovation Ecosystem partners will result in better – and faster – solutions for all service members.”

More information on the containment challenge can be found here