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NUWC Partners with Rhode Island Commerce Corporation to Strengthen Defense and Ocean Technology Sectors

Jabaley crop
Rear Adm. Michael Jabaley, Prospective Program Executive Officer Submarines (PEO Subs) and former commander of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC), today announced a new joint NUWC-State of Rhode Island defense commercialization partnership. This partnership will place a NUWC employee on a two-year assignment in the Commerce Rhode Island offices to jointly strengthen the contributions of the defense and ocean technology sectors to the Rhode Island state economy by growing business opportunities for start-ups and small- to medium-size businesses with capabilities relevant to undersea and naval technologies.

The initiative is part of an effort to help spark innovation between NUWC and industry at the local level. The position will leverage NUWC's intellectual property, patents, lab facilities, capabilities, personnel and expertise in undersea technologies to help the Commerce Corporation meet its economic development goals for defense diversification and commercialization.

" With our world-class military and business institutions and our ideal geography as the Ocean State, Rhode Island can be a true leader for the rest of the country in the defense and ocean technology sectors," said Gov. Gina M. Raimondo. " Through this partnership with the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, we will develop bigger and better ways to work together to advance our technology, foster innovation in government, and create jobs. This is a great example of the type of smart, new approaches we need to jumpstart our economy and spark Rhode Island's comeback."

"This new partnership is a smart move that builds on some of the recent investments we've made in strengthening the state's assets and defense sector infrastructure. By better connecting NUWC with business, academic, and technology leaders that want to collaborate with the Navy, we can further economic development opportunities and job growth here in Rhode Island. This type of collaboration will help the Navy develop and build the next generation of ships and equipment and reinforce Rhode Island's role as a high-tech hub of undersea technologies," said U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, the Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee.

Last year, Reed helped secure a $1.7 million federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant to help establish a technology business incubator in Newport that will foster start-ups and a $1.57 million federal grant from the Department of Defense's Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) to help Commerce Corporation map out an economic development action plan to leverage regional assets like defense-manufacturing companies, and pursue market diversification through intensive use of industrial design, engineering, and innovation.

"One of the first orders of business will be to develop a defense and ocean technology outreach strategy and implementation plan," said Jabaley. " The position will assist the Commerce Corporation in identifying and attracting Rhode Island businesses and academic institutions that have technology developments or requirements in common with NUWC."

The agreement will benefit the Navy and the Department of Defense (DoD) by enhancing access to a broader cross-section of innovative commercial assets for increased research and development, identification of new sources, and reduction in costs of products and services.

"We intend for the position to identify and help connect potential technical experts from the State's infrastructure to support NUWC's mission via such tech transfer mechanisms as a cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAs), educational partnership agreements, and small business innovation research programs," Jabaley added. In addition to serving as the state's expert for developing policies and programs to implement technology transfer with NUWC and other federal labs, the posit ion will also provide expert insight about coordinating a Rhode Island-based technology transfer pilot that leverages assets from NUWC, other labs, and other innovation-based resources in the state. "

This partnership will help us to strengthen Rhode Island's already well-positioned defense and ocean technology industries," said Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor." Through this extraordinary collaboration with the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, given its deep experience and renowned expertise, we will be able to advance economic development and create more high quality jobs for Rhode Islanders. We are grateful to Rear Adm. Michael Jabaley for his leadership in working with Governor Raimondo to launch this important joint initiative."

This effort is not unprecedented. In Indiana, the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane has had a similar partnership with the state in place for over a year. Early indications are that the effort has been very successful, with numerous outreach events for companies interested in doing business with the Warfare Center and leveraging the command's vast technology base.

"I am confident this position will go a long way towards fostering innovation across the defense industry that supports NUWC's mission and beyond," said Jabaley. " The command's history, experience, and connections to academia are valuable attributes that can strengthen the region's reputation for undersea and maritime excellence. This position has the potential to be a technology feeder for the myriad projects, programs, and systems we're working on at NUWC, while also being an economic multiplier for the State's highest paying sector — the defense industry."

The position should allow NUWC to be more agile by giving it better access to startups and non-traditional industries with regional entrepreneurs and directly supports DoD's Long-Range Research and Development Plan. Simultaneously, it would provide the defense industry in the state with much needed visibility, especially for those working in support of undersea warfare.

"I believe this position could also help provide additional direction and opportunities for the regional innovation hub that the City of Newport and several other organizations have been working to make a reality," said Jabaley. " It has the potential to be the linchpin to developing a network of entities and individuals that ultimately would constitute a statewide eco-system for innovation and knowledge transfer."
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