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The United Kingdom’s Royal Navy and the United States Navy announced a new partnership to accelerate the adoption of novel ideas and technologies, marking a unique chapter in the historic relationship between the two nations.
A newly established London Tech Bridge—with both nations as full partners—will serve as a command post for innovation for the two Navies as they work toward interchangeability in everything from technology development to deployment and operations.
Royal Navy Second Sea Lord Vice Adm. Nick Hine, and the Hon. James “Hondo” Geurts, U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition, announced the official partnership today at a live virtual event on social media.
“The London Tech Bridge will form a significant upgrade to the U.S./U.K. maritime partnership and will enhance the Royal Navy’s already significant investments in technology and innovation,” said Hine. “Collaborative problem-solving will allow us to advance from operating alongside our partners in an interoperable manner, to truly working with them in an interchangeable manner.”
Speaking from his office in Washington, Geurts noted the importance of getting broad participation to make the Tech Bridge concept succeed.
"The Tech Bridge name denotes technology, but there's a huge human element to this,” said Geurts. “One of the competitive advantages of a democratic society is its ability to bring people together in a collaborative, not coercive fashion. In fact, the more diverse ideas, the better.
“We do not need you to be an expert in the U.S. or Royal Navy,” he added. “The kind of folks I'm hoping to excite, attract and leverage are those with the curiosity to explore, the humility to learn, and the boldness to act. There are certainly technology priority areas we have, but don't make that a limiter in bringing ideas to us.”
Over the last year, the U.S. Naval Agility Office (NavalX) has successfully leveraged Tech Bridges across the U.S., with the London outpost announced as the 13th and first overseas location. They are set up as innovation centers of gravity where military, industry and academia can meet, share ideas and collaborate to produce solutions that benefit the general public in addition to defense capacity.
While announced just over one month ago, today’s event is noteworthy in that this Tech Bridge will be a full partnership between two nations—a first for the Tech Bridge concept. It is one of the first key examples of the two navies moving out on the recently signed Future Integrated Warfighting Statement of Intent.
Initial focus areas will be Unmanned and Autonomy, Artificial Intelligence, Biotechnology, Space, and Directed Energy and Lasers.
“The Tech Bridge concept is flourishing and showing serious promise,” said Rear Adm. Lorin Selby, the U.S. Chief of Naval Research. “These are places where great minds can come together in a unique atmosphere, share ideas and technologies, and say ‘what if.’
“We are honored and delighted to be partnering on this new Tech Bridge in London with the Royal Navy.”
Selby and Royal Navy Director of Development Rear Adm. Andy Burns took questions during the live event.
Cmdr. Albert Arnold, of ONR Global, who will serve as the U.S. director, noted the impact of the London Tech Bridge will go beyond new technology, and will facilitate crucial conversations that surround the tech itself, focused on strategy, ethics, and trust.
“By innovating together across key strategic areas—from problem curation to solution development and fielding—we can truly reach the goal of being interchangeable throughout all we do,” he said. “Using ONR Global’s deep networks as the perfect foundation, we’re very excited to expand the breadth and reach with our Royal Navy partners to deliver capability for defense and beyond.”
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