The Security Network: Helping Small Defense Companies Innovate and Work Together

Michael Jones has an unusual perspective on the defense industry for a guy who oversees a non-profit industry group for San Diego’s defense and homeland security companies.

While the defense industry abounds with examples of advanced technologies, “big defense companies are not doing innovation,” says Jones, chairman and CEO of The Security Network. “They’ll even tell you that they’re not really innovators. What they want to do are big projects that combine technologies. They’re essentially big systems integrators.”

So where does innovation come from in the defense industry?

In San Diego , a lot of it comes through the small companies that belong to The Security Network. The organization, formed in 2004, coordinates the interests of government and law enforcement agencies, defense companies, university laboratories and other interest groups in the San Diego region. Sometimes that involves sponsoring events, such as the one-day forum held last week on “Maritime Law Enforcement and Security.” Sometimes that involves identifying and developing new technologies sought by Gary Wang, the chief technology officer at SPAWAR, the Navy’s San Diego-based Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command.

SPAWAR is a major Navy acquisition arm with more than 7,500 employees that awards billions of dollars in contracts each year—primarily to advance developments in C4ISR, a military acronym for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

So how does The Security Network work with Wang, who oversees SPAWAR’s science and technology labs on Point Loma?

“The world that the DoD (Department of Defense) and defense contractors live in is very insular,” Jones says. “So (Wang) is interested in finding new technologies so the government doesn’t waste a lot of time and money trying to develop something that already exists. Because if you’re a big contractor like Lockheed Martin, you don’t care if the technology the government wants already exists somewhere else. You want the government to pay you to develop the technology yourself.”

So The Security Network serves an important role, Jones says. “We try to find innovative, … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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