The Central Florida Tech Grove and the National Center for Simulation hosted Innovation Harvest Day at Tech Grove on April 17, 2023.


In maintaining national security and keeping up with peer and near-peer competitors, the U.S. military is always facing new problems and challenges. Innovation Harvest Day showcased new cutting-edge solutions created by younger firms.


“One of [Tech Grove’s] primary missions is to give visibility to companies that are not currently in the defense industrial base, and help them become aware of opportunities to do business in the defense modeling, simulation and training (MS&T) industry,” said Carol Ann Logue, Central Florida Tech Grove director. “Additionally, part of that mission is to make our customers [the military services] aware of these companies out there… that have capabilities that are directly applicable to the needs of the Team Orlando services.”


Logue said Tech Grove is also trying to reach out to companies that are not currently in the MS&T space because military customers may be searching for solutions but find it difficult to find the right firm with the right solution.


According to Dr. Neal Finkelstein, chief operating officer for the National Center for Simulation (NCS), “Industry Day”-type events have been occurring for years, but this first “Innovation Harvest Day” was the result of close collaboration between Team Orlando, NCS and the Central Florida Tech Grove.


“The object of these events is to link companies closer to Team Orlando and the simulation headquarters of the armed forces whether they are part of our MS&T business or in other sectors of the economy,” Finkelstein said. “It is really a two-way street. The government and defense industry see new innovation going on which helps in their market research before they do any kind of acquisition, and industry learns what requirements and capabilities Team Orlando needs.”


Finkelstein said these opportunities to speak to government officials “inside the gates,” can be a rare opportunity for innovative, new start-ups.


Marc Asselin, CEO of AVA Intelligence, said his company has been around for “about a year.” AVA correlates disparate data sources to derive insights and solve problems by presenting visualizations of data in 3D point clouds or AR/VR visualizations that allow clients to literally “walk into” information.


“We’re here because we’re very new,” Asselin said. “We just got into the SAM system, we’ve applied for some SBIRs and STTRs, and we’re hoping to get people interested in what we do. Everyone has the problem we solve.”


AVA’s service can be used to improve warfighter readiness by using activity stream data for simulator training, which can be correlated across a number of trainees to provide insights on service member performance in various tasks. The output of this process can reveal insights on the overall readiness level of an entire command.


“This event has been wonderful,” Asselin said. “We’ve met a number of primes and we got to speak to the Army and NAVAIR. We just reached lunch time and I feel like we’ve already accomplished more than I’d hoped.”


Logue said Innovation Harvest Days are expected to be quarterly events going forward and will feature specific themes, such as medical simulation, energy or cyber, as a few examples. This quarter’s theme revolved around highly innovative companies that are current clients of an incubator or accelerator program in Central Florida.


Logue added it’s beneficial that government personnel attend future Innovation Harvest Days because agencies don’t always have the time or ability to find companies that can help the government see new solutions. These events give government representatives a broader “aperture” to see the state-of-the-art. She also recommended that industry reps should attend future events to stay current with younger companies that aren’t in MS&T because their technology can get integrated into solutions and platforms for Tech Grove customers. Often, that will occur when a larger, more established firm collaborates with a younger firm by bringing it onto its team.


“This is just one of so many initiatives we have going on at Tech Grove that provide the opportunity to collaborate with and meet new companies you wouldn’t have learned about otherwise,” Logue said.


Marc Asselin and COL KWON at Central Florida Tech Grove’s Innovation Harvest Day

See all the Tech Grove events on their website.

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