I am continuously searching for ways to engage the nation’s innovators – the inventor in his or her basement, the student in college, the first responder on the street – who can bring game changing technologies to the Homeland Security Enterprise. One of the many tools in my tool kit to reach this new audience is prize competitions, and in early March, we launched our first competition.
The challenge ends Thursday, April 2, and I want to take one last opportunity to reach out and encourage participation.
The prize competition method is one of many being used to influence scientific, engineering, and technical resources. This new and agile tool incentivizes innovative ideas and solutions to address a wide range of challenges while inspiring and mobilizing diverse, non-traditional talent, which is one of my top priorities. We have already seen significant interest in our first prize competition with 180 problem solvers registered—I think that is a great sign of things to come.
This first competition, Where Am I, Where Is My Team?” Indoor Tracking of the Next Generation First Responder, uses the authority provided under the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Reauthorization Act of 2010. The America Competes Act provides DHS with broad authority to conduct prize competitions as outlined in President Obama’s 2009 Strategy for American Innovation, making it easier to use competitive programs to encourage innovation, solve tough problems, and advance the Department’s mission.
In 2014, DHS Secretary Johnson delegated the responsibility for the Department’s America COMPETES Act prize authority to me in my role as the Under Secretary for Science and Technology, and I am committed to using it to find cutting edge technologies and scientific talent. The competitions offer one or more prizes to a winning participant or participants where success is gauged on meeting established criteria and the broader goal of stimulating innovation that will help advance the Department’s mission and that of the Homeland Security Enterprise.
We also launched our EMERGE! Accelerator Program in March. While the prize challenge seeks technology solutions, EMERGE! works with potential commercial partners to better prepare them to work with the government.
With both the prize challenge and the business accelerator program, S&T is increasing the odds of getting innovative technologies into the hands of end users and strengthening the security and stability of our nation.
That is my goal and the mission of S&T.We want to work with you. We want ideas on how to better protect our nation. We need to increase the resilience of our critical infrastructure. We know you have the ideas to help us and that it’s largely a matter of connecting the dots from the innovator and inventors to S&T to industry to end users.