The Tech Bridge concept was initiated in September 2019 to enable the Department of the Navy to find, develop, and adopt solutions more rapidly. The mission was to harness talent and technology through a variety of mechanisms, such as Partnership intermediary Agreements and activities like prize challenges to attract a wider pool of expertise and solutions to challenges. To accomplish this mission, NavalX started looking for pockets of innovators, visionaries, and entrepreneurs within the Department of the Navy who were eager to better connect to each other and with their local talent in industry and academia.

In 2019 NSWC Crane was chosen as one of the first six Tech Bridge sites in the nation to improve collaboration and agility throughout the U.S. Department of the Navy. The NavalX Midwest Tech Bridge then awarded its first Collaborative Project Order to ARI (Applied Research Institute) to foster collaboration among universities, industry, small businesses and non-profits to accelerate technology to the warfighter in areas including trusted microelectronics, hypersonics, and electro-optics.

ARI engages with the Midwest Tech Bridge in a number of ways, including organizing events like tech demonstrations, prize challenges, hackathons and Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) opportunities. ARI also facilitates engagement with local Navy and Department of Defense (DoD) partners in a variety of ways, with one notable example being its operation of the Cyber-Physical Systems (CyPhy) Lab, located just outside NSWC Crane in the WestGate Technology Hub in Odon, Ind.

Since its launch, NavalX Tech Bridge has expanded to 16 locations around the world, part of a connected network where each Tech Bridge is led by local area Navy Laboratories with collaborative partners made up of industry, academia and other military branches.