Advances in defense electronic systems do not always come from industrial giants. The U.S. Army recently announced an award to Lumineye of Boise, Id. for its wall-penetrating radar technology. This technology helps military troops and first responders to identify potential threats as well as those in need behind walls. The $250,000 award to the small company was made as part of the second Expeditionary Technology Search competition, known as xTechSearch, and announced at the 2019 Association of the United States Army meeting in Washington, D.C. in mid-October.
“The xTechSearch competition helped us learn a lot along the way,” said Corbin Hennen, chief executive officer and co-founder of Lumineye. “Getting the first bit of funding was important. The funding from phase three was the first significant funding we’ve received and made a world of difference for us. It showed us true customer support and that the Army was really interested in us. It also allowed us to participate in the Y Combinator accelerator program.”
As an alternative to working with large prime contractors, the xTechSearch competition provides the Army with the opportunity to work with smaller nontraditional business partners capable of innovative technologies such as the wall-penetrating radar. Given regular technological advances occurring in electronic technologies in commercial, industrial, and military markets on a global basis, such small-business partnerships can often provide even the slight competitive edge needed on the battlefield.
Concerning these small business partners, Major General Patrick Burden, director of combat systems for the U.S. Army Futures Command, noted: “We need your insights, ideas, and creativity. Some of the systems and technologies that will enable our soldiers to win on the future battlefields will arise from the partnerships we establish here. We look to you to help us deliver the best technology in the world to our Army.”