How do we keep pace with the speed of innovation? How do we get the right tools into the hands of first responders and other homeland security operators faster? At the Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), we think the answer is to gather the right people together to talk about these important questions.
On July 20, we partnered with the New York University (NYU) Entrepreneurial Institute to conduct a roundtable discussion with New York City (NYC) leaders from small business and the accelerator, incubator, and venture capital communities to discuss how S&T can be a stronger partner and build more capacity to make communities more resilient and secure and responders more effective.
S&T is focused on engaging industry innovators to find ways for adapting commercial technologies for countering natural disasters and emergencies, such as biological, explosive, and terrorist incidents. Expanding our network of non-traditional partners enables S&T to better understand what drives technology trends and the impact they could have on the Homeland Security Enterprise.
To achieve high impact outcomes, NYC officials suggested S&T continue to collaborate with intermediaries, such as accelerators - to strategically interface with business sectors and align with S&T priorities, help small business navigate the procurement process, and connect technology developers with the appropriate S&T program manager. The group also encouraged the broader use of interactive prize competitions, whereby innovators could work with operators in the field to understand the scale of the problem and conduct interviews over periods of time.
These are great suggestions, and we are looking at ways to implement them as well as increasing our partnerships within NYC.
The broad range of NYC security priorities, including increasing infrastructure protection capabilities, improving emergency response information sharing, and advancing chemical/biological detection and recovery efforts, make it an ideal location for testing different systems and applying existing solutions in new ways. The cumulative outputs of technology, people, and capital in NYC serve as a model for how innovation ecosystems can bring high-value and specialized solutions to homeland security challenges.
This roundtable provided invaluable insights into what NYC innovators expect from S&T moving forward. We’ll build upon these insights as we talk to other innovators from around the nation. This wasn’t a one-time event; S&T plans to continue engaging innovators at testing and experimental events such as urban operational exercises, through our National Conversations, and at forums like at NYU in the coming months.
If you’re not part of this conversation, we invite you to join. Our National Conversation is online, and please check out our upcoming events. We may be speaking at or participating in an event near you.