WASHINGTON – The U.S. Army recently named Project OWL, based out of Brooklyn, New York, as the first-place winner of its xTechSearch 5 Competition for their Deployable Ubiquitous Connectivity Kit, also known as DuckLinks technology, a portable, wireless network device offering many benefits to the Army, including the ability to leverage cost-effective and disposable sensors and communications in network-degraded environments; a distributed network in air, ground, water or underground; and the ability to share critical data.
The announcement was made during an event in Washington, D.C., featuring the top ten finalists.
“Washington, D.C., is home to both the Army and some of the country’s top science and technology (S&T) leaders, so to bring the 10 xTechSearch 5 finalists to our nation’s capital was a perfect example of how the two worlds fit together to modernize and equip our Soldiers,” said Mr. Douglas R. Bush, acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology. “As a small business, Project OWL’s DuckLinks technology addressed the Army’s need for advanced wireless network devices on a large scale, and ASA ALT is pleased to include them as the 2021 Winner of the xTechSearch Competition.”
Before Project OWL was announced as the grand prize winner, the finalists participated in the Washington Immersion Day, where the competing companies received a tour of the Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory in Adelphi, Maryland, to get a firsthand glimpse of S&T in the Army’s ecosystem. In addition, they each presented a proof-of-concept demonstration to a panel of judges and a live public audience. The pitches were also livestreamed via the xTech website to allow small businesses, innovators and the defense community nationwide an opportunity to view the latest technology advancements within the S&T community.
The final awards ceremony took place at the Pentagon on Sept. 2, where Mr. Bush presented Project OWL with their cash prize of $250,000. The remaining nine companies were awarded a cash prize of $10,000 for their novel innovations; throughout the duration of xTechSearch 5, each of the nine finalists received a total of $145,000 per company.
The xTech Program launched in 2018 with the goal of uncovering novel technology solutions for Army use. xTechSearch 5 is the fifth iteration of the xTechSearch series, which are open-topic competitions providing small business innovators with an opportunity to showcase their technology solutions to experts across the Army, while winning prize money along the way.
“xTechSearch has a strong history of identifying and implementing novel technologies that allow for collaboration between two separate entities: the Army and the commercial, non-traditional sector,” said Mr. Bush. “Both Project OWL and the remaining finalist companies proved themselves worthy of possible integration into the Army’s ecosystem, so this competition has carried on the tradition of offering transformational technologies to Soldiers on the frontlines.”
xTechSearch 6 is the latest competition in the series, with the submission period recently closing on Sept. 2. Ultimately, 20 finalists will receive awards of $25,000 each and will be invited to demonstrate a proof-of-concept of their solutions, with the opportunity to submit for a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research award of up to $250,000 each.
The Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and 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.