MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
Marine Corps Systems Command is leveraging small business technologies to support the warfighter.
In May, MCSC’s Small Business Innovation Research program held a weeklong Limited Military User Assessment for Marines, Sailors and other stakeholders to provide feedback on various technologies in development.
“This week’s Limited Military User Assessment enables Marines and Sailors to assess some of our systems, learn more about them and provide some feedback,” said Jeff Kent, MCSC’s program manager for SBIR.
Congress established the SBIR program in 1982 to strengthen the role of small businesses in research and development efforts. The program stimulates innovation and fosters participation from small businesses in the United States.
The LMUA allowed for small businesses to showcase these innovations. The prototypes demonstrated spanned various stages of the acquisition timeline. These systems included a water purification capability, bomb suit cooling vest and tethered energy drone, among others.
The final day of the event was one of the most popular, during which the SBIR office demonstrated several prototype medical technologies for Marines, Naval Corpsmen and MCSC Deputy to the Commander for Systems Engineering and Acquisition Logistics Edwin A. Stewart.
The Limited Military User Assessment provides the exposure of prototype systems to the intended end user and acquisition stakeholders. It also helps us build relationships with the fleet and present to them systems that they could one day use. Jeff Kent, MCSC’s program manager for SBIR
One of those technologies was the Expeditionary Portable Oxygen Generation System, a lightweight, mobile capability that provides medical-grade oxygen to the fleet. EPOGS increases reliability, availability and maintainability over legacy oxygen systems.
HM1 Darin Buckley, a Corpsman for Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Quantico, Virginia, said the technology has the potential to greatly benefit the fleet.
“This system is portable, lightweight and has multiple functions that allow us to refill oxygen tanks and also provide oxygen to patients in the field,” said Buckley. “I like its transportability, which allows us to throw this on a helicopter or the back of a truck.”
Also on display at the LMUA was the Portable Ruggedized Energy Efficient Medical Sterilizer. PREEMS provides battery-operated field sterilization of medical instruments and surgical tools while significantly reducing the amount of water needed.
Jack Philpott, an engineer for MCSC’s Expeditionary Medical Systems Team, said PREEMS provides a full sterilization capability to forward-deployed medical assets for the first time. He also noted how the system is much lighter and consumes less power when compared with legacy sterilization systems.
“Typically, medical tools must be shipped to an Army facility where they use a steam sterilizer, which is a large, heavy unit that uses 5 gallons of water,” said Philpott. “With PREEMS, sterilization can be done within an hour in a forward-deployed area, and they’re ready to use for surgery.”
Philpott also raved about the benefits of the Expeditionary Medical Refrigeration Unit. This lightweight cooling system allows for easier maintenance of medical necessities such as blood, medicines and vaccines. It also enables the fleet to transport these items longer distances on the battlefield.
Legacy refrigeration systems could only cool blood for eight hours. EMRU, which includes both refrigerators and freezers, provides more than three days of battery-powered refrigeration for medical necessities in a field environment.
“With this system, you can maintain that blood safely for days at a time,” said Philpott. “And thereby, you can save lives all the way out toward the point of the spear without any additional necessary power.”
An earlier prototype of the EMRU was on display at a 2019 SBIR-led LMUA. Due to its popularity among Marines and Corpsmen MCSC expanded an existing contract with the vendor to produce additional refrigerator and freezer units.
Kent hopes the LMUA can become an annual event, fostering interactions between the small businesses, acquisition professionals and end users that ultimately benefit the warfighter for years to come.
“The Limited Military User Assessment provides the exposure of prototype systems to the intended end user and acquisition stakeholders,” said Kent. “It also helps us build relationships with the fleet and present to them systems that they could one day use.”