WASHINGTON -- Following a cross-country tour, the U.S. Army recently completed the first phase of its second Expeditionary Technology Search competition, known as xTechSearch 2.0.

The focus of xTechSearch 2.0 is to drive American innovation, spur economic growth and seek novel, disruptive concepts and technologies to advance Army capabilities across multiple technology areas to include Long-Range Precision Fires, Next Generation Combat Vehicle, Future Vertical Lift, The Army Network, Air and Missile Defense; Increasing Soldier Lethality, Medical Technologies and Military Engineering Technologies.

Small businesses pitched their capabilities to panels of Army judges in Playa Vista, Calif.; Chicago; Austin, Texas; Boston; and Frederick, Maryland. From an initial group of 60 companies, the judges selected 25 small businesses as finalists, who will be featured at the Association of the Army's Global Force Symposium and Exposition in Huntsville, Alabama, March 26-28.

The Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology), known as ASA(ALT), launched the nationwide competition to revolutionize the way the Army attracts and encourages innovation.

"It is great to see the dialogue between Army subject matter experts and these innovative companies trying to reshape the world as we know it," said Josh Israel, ASA(ALT), one of the xTechSearch competition leads. "Facilitating a continuous dialogue is one of the main intrinsic values xTechSearch offers both the Army and industry. We look forward to seeing this dialogue aid in the transition of paradigm-shaping capabilities to our warfighters."

Pete Lohr of Advanced Hydrogen Technologies in North Carolina, traveled to Chicago to pitch his capability to improve Next Generation Combat Vehicles with lightweight and advanced projectile-neutralizing armor, and was one of the small businesses selected to move to the next round of the competition. He developed a first-of-its-kind capability to molecularly bond carbide or ceramics to metals, enabling design trade-offs to either increase strength or reduce weight of defensive materials.

Lohr spoke about a defensive technology he previously developed that was deployed in battle, which had personal significance, as his son is currently in the Army and was deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"You become an engineer so you can use your skills to better mankind," Lohr said. "To that point, I felt like my mission was achieved. With this armor, I want to go further than that."

In addition to the pitches, companies were given the opportunity to interact with Army leadership from the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command's Army Research Laboratory, the Army's corporate research laboratory (ARL), the Army's Application Laboratory, Army Futures Command and others during information sessions that focused on collaborating with military and the government.

The 25 small businesses who will proceed to the next round of the competition are Advanced Hydrogen Technologies Corporation; AKHAN Semiconductor, Inc.; Antimicrobial Materials, Inc.; Armaments Research Company, Inc.; ARC; AUV Flight Services, LLC; Cogitari, Inc.; GhostWave, Inc.; Great Lakes Sound and Vibration, Inc.; Invisible Interdiction, Inc.; Lumineye; MELD Manufacturing Corporation; NAVSYS Corporation; Novaa Ltd.; NOVI LLC; Olifant Medical; Orthozon Technologies, LLC; Response Technologies; SIGINT Systems, LLC; Spark Thermionics, Inc.; Spectrohm, Inc.; Sphere Brake Defense, LLC; United Aircraft Technologies, Inc.; Valley Tech Systems, Inc.; Vidrovr Inc.; and Vita Inclinata Technologies.

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The Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics & Technology) provides the American Soldier with a decisive advantage in any mission by developing, acquiring, fielding, and sustaining the world's finest equipment and services; and by leveraging technologies and capabilities to meet current and future Army needs.

The CCDC Army Research Laboratory (ARL) is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. As the Army's corporate research laboratory, ARL discovers, innovates and transitions science and technology to ensure dominant strategic land power. Through collaboration across the command's core technical competencies, CCDC leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our Nation's wars and come home safely. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.