Since taking on the job of heading the Office of Research and Technology Applications (ORTA) at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane), John Dement has completely rebuilt technology transfer at the lab.
Home to the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Centers of Excellence for electronics, microcircuits and power systems, and with scientists and engineers constituting 70 percent of the 3,000 base employees, NSWC Crane holds a high concentration of technical expertise and resources that is rare in its home state of Indiana. Dement took that potential and ran with it, setting the goal of making his lab an important driver of technology-based economic development for the state.
Two of NSWC Crane’s notable partnerships illustrate particularly well the success of Dement’s leadership and approach to technology transfer in bringing about economic development. The Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville (GAGE) was created in early 2007 out of the need for a comprehensive, focused approach to economic development pursuits between government and business. Teaming with NSWC Crane and the University of Southern Indiana (USI), the three entities have developed innovative processes that have had an impact on both regional and federal technology transfer programs. Examples include the USI’s Business Translation Process, Crane’s Partnership Intermediary Agreement (PIA)/University T2 Network, the Technology Commercialization Academy (TCA), and the award-winning Innovation Discovery Process (IDP).
Teaming with NSWC Crane and the University of Southern Indiana (USI), the three entities have developed innovative processes that have had an impact on both regional and federal technology transfer programs.
The Radio Frequency (RF) Alliance is another example of a very successful economic development relationship that Dement helped spark and support. In 2009, NSWC Crane entered into a PIA with Crane Technology, Inc. (CTI), a public-private partnership and business development resource established with support from the state of Indiana. The result was the creation of the RF Alliance, which spins-out DOD RF technology to the private sector and spins-in DOD private sector innovations.
The Alliance’s focus on RF technologies makes it an ideal partner for NSWC Crane since RF technologies are a major component of electronic warfare/information operations, one of the lab’s three primary mission areas. The RF Alliance has been able to convert targeted industry members into tangible economic development success stories. Two new companies, Omega Micro Technologies and Indiana Microelectronics, have been established as a direct result of the NSWC Crane/CTI partnership. The Alliance has facilitated 9 partnerships between various private-sector entities and public institutions, and has even assisted science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) activities in 43 schools. At least 21 high tech jobs have been directly created as a result of Alliance activity, with another 60 jobs created indirectly.