NGA’s Moonshot Labs hosted the IC Private Sector Engagement Innovation Summit July 12-14 for members of IC agencies to exchange information and share best practices on how the government can better collaborate with the private sector to find solutions to national security challenges.
The event was co-led by NGA and ODNI. Participating IC agencies included FBI, DHS, NCTC, CIA, NSA, Department of State, DIA and the National Maritime Intelligence Office. Saint Louis University, Capital Innovators and T-REX Innovation Center also participated in the discussions.
Event co-organizer Kenny Sholes, partnership officer with ODNI, said he targeted Moonshot Labs as a location for this meeting.
“The thinking was, let’s pull IC officers involved with partnerships, acquisitions and legal affairs away from our desks and offices in DC and inspire them to think about doing something differently by holding discussions in the innovative spaces NGA has developed in St. Louis,” Sholes said.
Representatives from non-government organizations talked about how they work with NGA. SLU professor Vasit Sagan, acting director of the Taylor Geospatial Institute, also talked about how NGA employees are participating in academic research.
Frank Hopper with Capital Innovators discussed NGA’s work with Capital Innovators in the NGA Accelerator Program. This first-of-its-kind initiative between NGA, Missouri Technology Corporation and Capital Innovators is designed to fund, mentor and accelerate the growth of next-generation geospatial-intelligence technologies.
He described the “ripple effect” that comes from the accelerator, as cohorts cycle through and more and more innovators gain experience working with the IC. Even if the innovators do not end up working with NGA, or even if their company fails, they can take that experience with them for future potential work.
At the event, representatives from each participating agency talked about how their organization approaches private-sector partnerships, legal considerations for private sector interactions and the development of near-term steps for improving IC collaboration with the private sector.
The event also showcased Moonshot Labs to other IC and government organizations and how they can potentially use it as an asset to support innovative solutions, said Mike Fitzpatrick, NGA Moonshot Labs team lead.
Christie Rapetti, an NGA industry engagement advisor who helped co-organize the event, said Moonshot Labs has drawn the attention of IC organizations as an example of “the art of the possible.”
“There is considerable interest and effort among our IC counterparts to cultivate agile and innovative partnerships with industry and academia such as those NGA has created at Moonshot Labs,” said Rapetti.
NGA’s presence in St. Louis, and the benefits to NGA and the IC that have resulted from the positive relationship with the St. Louis GEOINT community, was the focus of many discussions. NGA has built a strong collaboration with the St. Louis geospatial ecosystem, Fitzpatrick said, and other organizations have noticed the many successes NGA has had through its outreach and engagements in St. Louis.
“The future of our national security lies in geographic resiliency – NGA’s efforts in St. Louis and beyond are part of that,” said Rapetti. “Other agencies are coming to understand that staying solely D.C.-centric is not realistic to the future security of our national mission and have taken steps or started discussions to do as NGA has done with the ecosystem in St. Louis.”
For more information about the summit or Moonshot Labs, contact [email protected].