Sandra I. Erwin, National Defense Magazine
Image from article, with caption: An artist's illustration of the University of Queensland's SPARTAN vehicle, a reusable satellite launching system that uses hypersonic technology
At its campus in Los Angeles this month, Northrop and G’DAY USA — an organization that promotes U.S.-Australia joint ventures — hosted the inaugural “Emerging Innovators Xchange” conference. This was not a defense-focused event but a broader gathering of entrepreneurs and innovators emceed by Gray Bright, anchor of "The Tomorrow Show." They covered topics like how to use technology to increase global supplies of clean water and provide better health care.
The thinking in the company is that “technology and innovation can come from anywhere,” Edmund Cataldo, director of global positioning at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, said in an interview. “It is about making connections that could lead to ideas for the future. It is also about connecting Australian and American businesses.”
In the long term, the idea is to increase Northrop’s footprint and sources of cutting-edge technology outside the United States. ...
Typically, U.S. defense companies fly executives in and out of countries where they do business a few times per year. “That’s not a good way to build a relationship with the customer base,” Cataldo said. To be truly a global company, there has to be a deeper commitment, he noted.
Technology exchanges and events like the innovator’s conference in Los Angeles are indicative of a change in how Northrop Grumman wants to do business in the international arena, said company spokesman Bryce McDevitt. “It’s more focused on being that strong corporate citizen in areas where we hope to operate in the future. From a strategic standpoint, it is about recognizing potential gaps we may have in technology and how to fill those gaps,” he added. “We are capturing ideas from places where we may not have thought of before. All of this with the hopes of growing our capabilities, and obviously, as a defense technology company, developing capabilities to help protect the United States and our allies.” McDevitt said in some ways the company is doing public diplomacy. “We focus on investing and representing the company and the nation as positively as possible in places where we’re operating, and grow the network as much as possible.” ...