DoD Powering Innovation, Empowering Entrepreneurs: Startup Connect Meeting Recap!

March 12th, 2024

Marina, Ca.

The Monterey Bay DART and the Institute for Innovation & Economic Development (iiED) hosted a dynamic Startup Connect meetup on Tuesday, March 12th. The conversations at the event focused on the Department of Defense (DoD) research ecosystem that drives innovation in military technology. Collaborating with government agencies, private companies, and academic institutions is crucial to nurturing a culture of experimentation and learning. During the meetup, discussions highlighted the safe integration of drones into the national airspace and the opportunities and challenges that come with it, including aerospace integration and safety. Other topics discussed include the importance of Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) in promoting economic growth and employment opportunities in Monterey County. It was emphasized that innovation and experimentation play a crucial role in developing solutions for national security, and it is essential to leverage the ecosystem to turn ideas into prototypes, especially by enabling technologies.

Are you interested in unlocking the secrets of military innovation? Did you miss the recent discussion on safe drone integration and the future of aerospace? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered! Learn how the Department of Defense, businesses, and research universities collaborate to develop cutting-edge technologies. Discover how you can transform your ideas into national security solutions and help boost Monterey’s economy.

Recordings of each speakers presentation can be found [HERE]

Marco Romano, Director of NavalX Central Coast Tech Bridge, tackled the hurdles of bringing defense industry inventions from concept to reality. He spotlighted critical gaps that need to be filled for smoother transitions.  But wait, there’s more! NavalX is venturing beyond the Department of Defense to explore even more exciting advancements.  

Ashley Book, a researcher at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), shed light on the NPS Joint Interagency Field Experimentation (JIFX) program. JIFX is a game-changer, getting cutting-edge tech into the hands of soldiers faster with convenient quarterly research events. Book also showcased a one-of-a-kind Camp Roberts facility, perfect for military training and private industry ventures. Think restricted airspace and overnight flights! 

Art Siordia, Test Range Director at Airspace Integration, showcased their one-stop shop for drone development. Need space to test your UAS? Check. Ground testing facilities? Got it. Even an incubator to nurture the next generation of aerospace startups? They’ve got you covered. Airspace Integration is a trusted partner for industry giants like SpaceX, providing critical services like safety analysis and asset development. 

Do you need help in the labyrinth of government contracts? Jordan Caballero, Procurement Counselor at Monterey Bay APEX Accelerator, is here to be your guide! APEX offers free assistance to entrepreneurs, helping them navigate the entire process from start to finish. Need help with bidding or managing a contract? They’ve got your back. Learn more about this valuable free resource and unlock your government contracting potential! 

Bill Sherrod, Advisor at HawkTower, sees significant opportunities for AI in unexpected places – rural areas! He envisions agriculture and national security applications but acknowledges the challenges specific to the Monterey Bay area. That’s where HawkTower swoops in! Their mission is to fuel the growth of startups by providing the resources, funding, and connections they need to thrive.

Credit: Denise Silva

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