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Coast Guard Innovation Program Hosts Idea Frenzy on West Coast

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Innovation Program Idea Frenzy

Innovators from across the Coast Guard participated in the Innovation Program’s Idea Frenzy in Alameda, California, July 25, 2019. The competition was judged by a panel representing senior Coast Guard leadership, operational commands, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate, and the Naval Postgraduate School. U.S. Coast Guard photo.


The Coast Guard’s Innovation Program hosted the West Coast edition of its “Shark Tank” inspired Idea Frenzy in Alameda, California on July 25, 2019. The event followed on the success of the Innovation Program’s inaugural Idea Frenzy held last year in Arlington, Virginia, making the event more accessible to those stationed across the country.

"The Innovation Program has established these events to provide an opportunity for innovators from all across the service to share their great ideas or inventions with Coast Guard leadership,” explained Cmdr. Pedro Vazquez, Innovation manager. “They encourage and celebrate the creativity and ingenuity of service members around the world."

During the event, eight finalists – representing a diverse mix of officer, enlisted and civilian members from all over the Coast Guard – pitched their ideas to a panel of distinguished judges representing senior leadership, operational commands, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T), and the Naval Postgraduate School. Each finalist was allotted 10 minutes to provide their pitch and respond to judge’s questions.

Vice Adm. Linda Fagan, Pacific Area commander; Rear Adm. Peter Gautier, District 11 commander; Dr. Rodrigo Nieto-Gomez, research professor at the Center for Homeland Defense and Security; and Melissa Oh, managing director for the Silicon Valley office of DHS S&T, each brought unique perspectives on innovation to the judges panel. Fagan noted that “having the external view and perspective was absolutely critical” to the success of evaluating the ideas.

The judges’ top ranked idea – the modification/addition of safety rails to national security cutter rescue access door – has been selected for prototyping with plans for testing its feasibility during Coast Guard Cutter Munro’s next patrol. Three more top ideas will be shared with members of the Innovation Council during their meeting in early September. The council is comprised of member organizations from across the Coast Guard who will have an opportunity to adopt the ideas into their portfolios.

“Venues like this often allow us to break some of the inertia that great ideas bump up against, elevate them to senior levels, and get the attention and resourcing so we can actually get them into the field to meet critical needs,” Fagan said.

Illustrating Fagan’s point, the Patrol Boat Product Line Ruggedized Maintenance Tablet – the top-rated entry of the 2018 Idea Frenzy – quickly received support and moved into testing which provided funding to deploy 30 devices to Sector Delaware Bay. Once the results of testing are completed, decisions on long-term funding and program ownership will be made.

With another successful event in the books, the Innovation Program is already planning future Idea Frenzies.

For more information: Innovation program page