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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Bresler

NPS: Bridging the Gap

Improving DoD-Backed Innovation Programs to Enhance the Adoption of Innovative Technology Throughout the Armed Services

As presented at the Naval Postgraduate School Acquisitions Research Symposium (May 9 - 10, 2018).

Abstract: For over 60 years, Department of Defense (DoD)–backed innovation programs have played an outsized role in the narrative surrounding military innovation. While these programs provide valuable benefits, this paper specifically evaluates their effectiveness as a means of enhancing the adoption of innovative new technology throughout the armed forces. To assess how companies that participated in DoD-backed innovation programs performed in the defense sector subsequent to program completion, we compiled a data set

of more than 1.29 million defense contract awards over seven years and analyzed the distribution of these awards across a data set of more than 8,000 DoD-backed innovation program award recipients. The results demonstrated that nearly half of participants achieved no meaningful growth in their defense business after program participation; and the small, innovative companies that did successfully bridge program participation into additional DoD business rarely contracted with customers outside of their initial branch sponsor. Through surveys and interviews of key stakeholders, we identified several causes for the low rate of adoption of participants’ technology across the armed forces, and we present concrete recommendations for how the Department can address these problems to better leverage DoD-backed innovation programs as a means of enhancing force readiness.

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