The Navy formally announced Feb. 14 the creation of NavalX, a technology accelerator aimed at helping service members and the business community navigate government bureaucracy, find other like-minded defense innovation projects and ultimately assist development of the tools that will allow the service greater agility in how it operates.

Agility is a theme at nearly every military technology conference and the West 2019 show in San Diego was no different. Navy leaders preached the need to move fast, to push software updates to sailors in days or weeks (not months or years), and to get on contract for new ideas in short amounts of time.

NavalX, short for Naval Expedition, might help do that.

“It’s not as much of a glitzy innovation store, but a set of capabilities anybody can access,” James “Hondo” Geurts, the assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition, said during a keynote speech at West 2019. “If you’re interested in doing counter [unmanned aerial systems], you should be able to call NavalX and ask who else is doing that and connect with them.

“On the industry side, if you have an idea, I’m going to make that easy for you. One-stop shop,” he said.

Ideally, NavalX would offer proven tools to Navy leaders, an outlet for innovators, and a way for industry members to connect to investment and experimentation opportunities.

The small cell of staff making up the NavalX team will report to Geurts, who has a history of rethinking acquisition practices. In previous roles, he helped create the SOFWERX incubator in Florida for technologies for Special Operations Command.

Already, NavalX has been working with SOFWERX and the Defense Innovation Unit, the Pentagon’s Silicon Valley outpost. Geurts said he wanted to prevent the Navy from re-learning the same practices and to avoid duplication within innovation efforts.

NavalX is “not meant to be competitive as much as how do we connect all the awesome tools that are in the DoD for folks in the lower level who have problems and how do we accelerate that whole process,” he told reporters.

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