Special Operations, Special Gear
A unique tech incubator develops solutions to problems faced by special ops troops.
Cutting to the Chase
When Navy SEALs needed a new boat bumper that could sustain 5,000 pounds of force, they sought help from SOFWERX. “Come to find out, if you continuously ram the pointy end of a boat into the hull of a steel tanker, it leaves a mark,” SOFWERX director Tambrein Bates says, laughing.
In fall 2016, SOFWERX invited small businesses and startups to propose ways of getting at the problem by holding a contest, with prize money ranging from $1,000 to $3,000. Among the entrants was Baymar Solutions, an engineering consulting firm in Hillsborough County. Founded in 2006, Baymar does about $1.5 million a year in business, primarily with medical device and aerospace manufacturers.
Baymar designed a bumper for the SEALs and showed a 3-D model to an audience of special operators and government officials at SOFWERX. As one of three finalists, Baymar then built a prototype bumper so that the SEALs could test it in combat-like scenarios. Ultimately, the SEALs chose another competitor’s design. Baymar won $2,000 in prize money.
“We were hoping to get visibility and something beyond that,” says Baymar founder Andrew McCutchen, meaning an “actual paid development contract.” Although McCutchen fell short of that goal, he says he’s glad he tried.
“A normal government contract can take months and months,” McCutchen says. “This was more typical of a commercial contract. It was really straightforward.”
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