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March 05, 2018 | Tom Ballard

USMC, Launch Forth announce co-creation partnership

Launch ForthBy Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

An announcement made last week in San Francisco makes perfect sense when you consider the individual leading the initiative and the platform his company has developed.

As many East Tennesseans know, Jay Rogers is a U.S. Marine veteran who proudly described his service and drew on those experiences to launch Local Motors. We captured some of that passion in this 2016 article on when Rogers keynoted Knoxville’s inaugural “Endeavor Young Professionals Summit.” Just a month later, sponsors of the region’s “Innov865 Week” heard him talk about the importance of co-creation at a VIP event at the Local Motors plant in the Hardin Valley area of West Knoxville.

Now, the Chair and Chief Executive Officer of LM Industries, Inc. the parent company of Launch Forth and Local Motors, is merging his experience as a Marine and the co-creation concepts that he has perfected in a new initiative.

Specifically, the U.S. Marines Corps and Launch Forth have announced a partnership to co-create products through design challenges that meet a wide range of logistical missions. The challenges will rely on innovative solutions designed and delivered by Marines, for Marines.

“This is about improving the lives of those who serve in the Marines by bringing customized solutions that improve day-to-day duty experience,” Rogers said in last week’s announcement. “In the aftermath of WWII, our country rightsized equipment development to count on industry in a way that made sense at the time. But, it came at a cost of disengaging our Marines with the equipment they most needed.”

That is changing as a result of the partnership.

“Today, we use the power of the internet and digital manufacturing to change that paradigm and engage our Marines with equipment solutions that are faster to the fight and more on target when they get there,” Rogers explained. “This effort is ultimately intended to save lives and increase effectiveness.”

According to last week’s announcement, there are two initial projects – a Modular Logistics Vehicle (MLV) and an Unmanned Cargo Delivery (UCD) vehicle. The first initiative, comprised of two parts, includes the concept design phase, which recently closed for submissions, and the technical design component which is underway and closes March 25. The UCD project is now open for brainstorming, and the first design challenge will open on March 26.

What exactly are the goals of these two co-creation efforts?

The MLV project is focused on the design of a new modular vehicle system that meets a range of logistical missions. Through concept and technical design, challenge participants will work to design a new vehicle that allows for modular adjustments to improve the Marine experience and corresponding operations. Use cases could range from personal movement to mechanical repair, construction and administrative support.

Once the technical design phase closes late next month, the Marine Corps will choose the winning design on April 23, followed by proof of concept and prototyping stages. Seven winners will receive a total of $10,000 in prizes for the design challenge, and eight winners will receive more than $40,000 in prizes for the technical challenge.

Similarly, the UCD project focuses on improving the safety and efficiency of moving cargo for Marines all over the world. Delivering supplies on the battlefield is one of the most routine activities a Marine does. A small, unmanned cargo delivery system can save lives and could operate on land, air, sea, underwater or even underground. The project is now open to post brainstorms. Seven winners will receive a total of $10,000 in prizes.

Those interested in learning more about the projects should visit

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