Army Innovation Summit highlights industry, academia collaborations

Deryn Chu from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, right, discusses the fuel cell powered Stalker unmanned aerial system with Gen. Dennis L. Via, commander of the U.S. Army Materiel Command, during the Army Innovation Summit 3. | U.S. Army photo by Tom Faulkner, RDECOM
By TRACIE R. DEAN, U.S. Army Research Laboratory

ADELPHI, Md. – Military and civilian leaders from across the Army took part in the Army Innovation Summit 3 held Aug. 16-17 at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

The two-day event, co-hosted by the U.S. Army Materiel Command with the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, focused on the Army’s materiel enterprise with an emphasis on identifying opportunities to impact and innovate the Army materiel life cycle in conjunction with industry and academia partners.

Army leaders conceived the idea for an innovation summit as part of a long-term Innovation Campaign Plan focused on far-term Army modernization. Previous Army Innovation Summit themes have been: Innovation Summit 1 defining innovation barriers and identifying possible solutions; Innovation Summit 2 refining innovation solutions, assigning ownership and implementing action plans.

Undersecretary of the Army Patrick Murphy gave opening remarks, and Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall gave the keynote speech. Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Katrina McFarland and Director of the Army Quadrennial Defense Review Office Maj. Gen. James Richardson, as well as industry and academia representatives, highlighted collaborative programs and initiatives across the Army science and technology community.

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory featured three exhibit displays:

  • Cooperative Guard
  • Advanced Protection Technologies
  • Fuel cell powered Stalker XE UAS

The Stalker provides intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities in a platform offering extended endurance and range and quick turn-around capabilities,” said Dr. Deryn Chu of ARL’s Energy and Power Division. “These capabilities have primarily been used by small units at the company and battalion levels to date.”

Both acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology Dr. Thomas Russell and acting ARL Director Dr. Phil Perconti attended the event.

“We are very much about discovery and innovation,” Perconti said. “When we do transition, we often talk about transition from a knowledge product point of view. We are very much about transitioning fundamental understanding, foundational understanding of the way you take science and technology, and apply it to Army problems.”

Perconti said in order to be a more cohesive research community and facilitate cooperation, “we must deal with the question of how to eliminate the barriers.”

“The first thing we did, with the help of AMC, was remove the barriers to our laboratory in Adelphi, Maryland, by putting infrastructure and security in place and by piloting a study where we have physically opened up our laboratories so that our partners can come work in our laboratories side by side with our researchers,” Perconti said.

“Eighty percent of what we do is in the public domain. We protect what we need to protect, we have a layered security approach to this. What it allows us to do is offer up an opportunity for real collaboration, real partnership.”

As the summit drew to a close it was evident that the Army innovation and modernization theme was embraced across the Army S&T community, Perconti said.

“Throughout the summit the focus was on innovation,” he said. “When you think about what’s next, you have to come back to disruptive innovation and the breakthrough domain; that is where ARL lives.

“This is the space we want to operate in. If you think about it in the context of options, these disruptive innovations present us options for the future and that is the context that makes this so very important.”