The FirePoint Innovations Center today marked the grand opening of its new Applied Innovation Center (AIC) in Huntsville, Alabama, a new collaboration, prototyping, and testbed facility aimed at accelerating technology discovery and adoption throughout Army Aviation. The new facility features two on-site prototyping and testing labs along with the resources to support partnership collaboration between private-sector emerging technology companies and U.S.
Army Aviation. Strategically located near the Redstone Arsenal, a hotbed of Department of Defense (DoD) and NASA aviation development, the AIC will allow Army Aviation to collaborate with cutting edge, emerging technology companies that might otherwise go undiscovered, to tailor commercial solutions for Army Aviation specific requirements.
It also provides an open avenue for small, cutting-edge companies to get introduced to the DoD and overcome some of the challenges non-traditional businesses face in the defense market. Seasoned aviation and defense technical executive Matthew Pfrommer has been tapped to lead the effort as AIC Director.
A 27-year veteran of the aerospace and defense industry, Pfrommer brings deep expertise on both sides of the table as both an experienced technologist and business developer with Fortune 500 experience, and as an Army acquisition civil servant. Pfrommer has spent the last decade as founder and principal consultant at Sawgrass Innovations, LLC, providing project management, innovation, strategy, and merger and acquisition consulting to companies in the aerospace and defense industry ranging from Fortune 500 firms to small businesses. Pfrommer says that, unlike other DoD innovation programs, the Applied Innovation Center has the capacity and expertise to actually facilitate the development, integration, and deployment of new technologies and solutions to address capability gaps in Army Aviation.
While executing on this mission the AIC plans to focus on smaller, non-traditional defense companies to help them get a foot in the door with the defense sector. “This isn’t your typical ‘innovation theater’ program where both sides get together to discuss hypotheticals,” Pfrommer said. “The AIC is where DoD and private-sector engineers can bring their technologies, connect them up, experiment, and iterate to solve problems, rather than broadcasting corporate commitments to the latest buzz on social media or theorizing paper solutions in proposal documents.
“I’m excited to see the accelerated innovation that comes out of these partnerships.” This early-stage collaboration lowers risk for both the Army and non-traditional tech firms. For Army Aviation, it provides an opportunity to integrate and test private-sector technologies to ensure compatibility prior to acquisition.
For small businesses, it shrinks the yearslong process and steep financial investment required to sell technologies into DoD and allows them to engineer specific solutions based on clear need, direction, and collaboration. Ultimately, that means getting cutting-edge technologies into the Army Aviation pipeline faster and more economically for both sides. FirePoint Innovations, a partnership between Wichita State University and the U.S.
Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command, Aviation and Missile Center (DEVCOM, AvMC), is based in Wichita, Kansas. Pfrommer says the goal is to eventually expand and install AICs in other strategic locations around the country to meet the Army’s needs. To learn more or become involved in Army Aviation collaboration, visit www.firepoint.info/aic.