By Sherry Dibari

Jerry Cronin, executive director of TempO and the Open Seas Technology Innovation Hub, and Girish Nandakumar, a Ph.D. candidate at Old Dominion University and former employee at the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, represented ODU at NATO's Chiefs of Transformation Conference in Norfolk last week.

The duo was instrumental in helping the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Innovation Hub launch the NATO Innovation Challenge, which solicits ideas from across the world to solve the alliance's problems. At the conference, they were part of a panel on open innovation, led by Lt. Gen. Thomas Sharpy from the U.S. Air Force, and helped identify success strategies.

The Innovation Hub, located on ODU's campus, has a close partnership with the University. The Innovation Challenge is hosted twice a year by different NATO nations in partnership with ODU. The most recent challenge was in Budapest, Hungary, where Cronin served as a judge. Nandakumar is advising the Innovation Hub on a new program he created titled "I4D," short for Innovation for Defense. I4D brings NATO's problems to a classroom setting, where students offer solutions as a part of a course.

The Chiefs of Transformation Conference is hosted annually by NATO's Allied Command Transformation (ACT), the NATO strategic command in charge of preparing the 70-year-old alliance for future challenges. The objective of this year's conference was to "interconnect national transformation initiatives with those of ACT, particularly in the areas of innovation, longer-term capability development and training." Conference topics included innovation, interoperability, resilience and human capital.

At the conference, the national Chiefs of Transformation, who are responsible for preparing their respective nations for future challenges, along with other senior leaders from across NATO, the Partner Interoperability Advocacy Group, industry, and academia, were invited to discuss and exchange ideas and best practices. Participants also explored the potential of current and emerging technologies.

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