US Navy sponsors winning round of naval Hacking for Defense 2021 challenge in Chile

The 2021 AVANTE Challenge, organized by the Chilean Navy and sponsored by the Office of Naval Research Global with close collaboration by the US Embassy in Chile, funded two winning teams after presenting the best minimum viable product in maritime sustainment. The event is the second of its kind and seeks to produce solutions to a set of problems proposed by the Chilean Navy.

Viña del Mar, Chile. – Last week marked the culmination of the 2021 AVANTE Challenge, a competition organized by the Chilean Naval Polytechnic Academy through its INNOVAPOLINAV program and sponsored by the Office of Naval Research Global (ONR Global) with active collaboration by the US Embassy in Chile. Small business and university teams were funded to produce solutions to a set of problems proposed by the Chilean Navy, with a technological focus on maritime sustainment.

The AVANTE Challenge was launched in 2020 with the goal to find creative ideas that employ technologies to significantly improve control over the maritime domain awareness (MDA) at low cost and within five months, following the successful Hacking for Defense (H4D) model used by the US Navy and the Office of Naval Research, via its innovation cell NavalX. ONR Global’s funding amounts to US$ 500,000, between the 2020 and 2021 rounds.

In this year’s edition, after various rounds of competition, five teams were selected to train in a Dual Use Tech program, which allowed them to develop technologies for the defense sector and the civil market, while also showing the results of the minimum viable product (MVP) they developed. They were required to produce dual-use technologies, with a commercial application in addition to the defense potential use. Finally, a panel selected the two winning teams: JakSol, Gollaborate from Streltech y PredictiveLab from the University of Chile.

ONR Global Technical Director, Dr. Rhett Jefferies, stated, “The AVANTE Innovation Challenge clearly demonstrates to the world how creative and potentially game-changing technology solutions to the most difficult and pervasive maritime problems can be developed in just a few months.  ONR Global commends all AVANTE 2021 teams for their ingenuity and efforts to develop their MVP and encourage them to continue innovating. The winning teams best demonstrated how their technology approach meets challenge objectives and is most ready to be commercialized into a product for Chile, the U.S., and the world.”

Although the technology focus of the challenge was maritime sustainment, specifically rapid repair of ships in a dry-dock, the competition brings together areas of innovative technology, commercialization, and startup businesses. The teams mostly developed digital platforms and tools, with pieces of artificial intelligence and machine learning for their algorithms to improve spare part logistics, refining maintenance operations and plans, and improving remote technical advice.

Mr. Richard H. Glenn, Chargé d’Affaires of the US Embassy in Chile, said, “For the Chilean Navy, as for the US Navy, it is important to have a technology edge, whether in maritime domain awareness, or to allow ships in need to repair to return to the theater as quickly as possible.”

He added, “In turn, having a technological edge requires engaging with innovative people. In the United States, we also know the struggle of the innovator – after the insight and the idea comes the struggle with bureaucracy, the struggle to get a new technology and products adopted. The AVANTE challenge brings down these bureaucratic barriers allowing the technologists to interview and to talk directly to the operational community, following the model that has been so successful with venture capital.”

ONR Global sponsors scientific efforts outside of the U.S., working with scientists and partners worldwide to discover and advance naval capabilities.