Editor’s note: WRAL Local Tech Wire asked contributor Noah Garrett to check out the latest technology being developed at the Defense and Security Technology Accelerator in Fayetteville. His reaction? Impressive, he reports in his latest “Innovation Exchange” column for LTW.

FAYETTEVILLE – “The Innovation Exchange” went on the road this week in search of innovation and collaboration, and what we found was astonishing in an industry that is rarely ever talked about – probably for good reason.

The Partnership for Defense Innovation (PDI) began with an excited group of people developing a concept followed by a lot of planning and then a ribbon-cutting a year ago as the Defense & Security Technology Accelerator (DSTA) went operational. On Monday, that same excitement was evident as more than 100 business leaders, elected officials and military officials from throughout the state gathered at the 15,000 square foot facility to see the reality of DSTA’s accomplishments thus far and to find out what’s to come.

Cryptographic data and tactical wireless communications products, computer and Web-based combat training, a 150-foot mobile communication tower that goes up in less than an hour, an eco-friendly soldier battery supply that lasts five times longer than traditional power supplies, and water-based paint that helps government and industry protect wireless networks were just a few of the products demonstrated by the client companies listed on the DSTA’s roster.

Please take the time and view some of the photos provided in the gallery for this post for more details.

PDI is having a visible impact throughout North Carolina and beyond. During brief remarks on a brutally chilly February morning, state Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand called the DSTA one of the most exciting things happening right now in North Carolina. He added, "This is one of the best examples of public/private partnership to create jobs, to create confidence and to create the kind of technology our military needs."

PDI was established as an economic development program in which jobs are created by the development of dual-use and commercial military applications in the defense, security and intelligence industries. PDI is supporting research and development, education and programs that have applications in defense and security, and collaborating with educational institutions.

With nearly 80 jobs created, resulting in almost 50 government contracts and more than $13 million infused into the North Carolina economy, DSTA is accomplishing what it was formed

to do; laying a foundation for growth for the defense industry.

And, more is expected in 2008.

DSTA opened a satellite office at The University of North Carolina Charlotte in The Ben Craig Center earlier this month. An additional satellite office is scheduled to open this month in Raleigh at North Carolina State University on Centennial Campus. The addition of these satellite offices will give DSTA clients access to research and technology epicenters across the state. In addition to the opening of the satellite offices, DSTA will open a WiFi laboratory in the early part of the year. The lab will be used to test and evaluate, in an unbiased manner, both governmental and commercial communications equipment to determine if such equipment can operate and integrate with existing military communications network. This defense-related research in wireless battlefield networks will have immense implications for our soldiers communicating on the battlefield.

DSTA is and will continue to be an important instrument in North Carolina’s effort to create a defense and security cluster that provides improved technologies for the defense and intelligence industries. With a productive year behind DSTA and a promising year ahead, its capabilities are endless – which, more importantly, gives new technologies and products into the hands of our war fighters, and ultimately on the battlefield.

About the author: WRAL Local Tech Wire recently launched the "Innovation Exchange," written by Noah Garrett. Garrett, former executive director of communications for the North Carolina Technology Association, is a creative spirit, from writing music to news stories, who recently launched his own communications firm. The focus of the Innovation Exchange is just that – creating a Web community through which people can exchange ideas and foster creativity.

Participate in the Exchange. Send ideas and feedback to: noah@thinkngc.com