Honolulu-based NovaSol wins $27M military contract

NovaSol, a decade-old Honolulu technology company, has won its biggest contract to date in receiving a $27.5 million award for development of small camera and data systems that can be used by unmanned military drones and others.

The U.S. Department of Defense yesterday announced it had awarded the five-year contract to NovaSol, a company that specializes in the research and development of optical systems.

The company has been working on a camera sensing system for the past 10 years that combines optics, spectrometers and data processing systems for reconnaissance and surveillance use. Rick Holasek, company president, said the system can break light into many narrow bands that can be analyzed and provide greater detail than what can be seen with routine photographs.

He said while there are competing systems, NovaSol has been able to shrink down a basketball-sized unit to one the size of a baseball.

That's attractive for use on unmanned aerial vehicles, since equipment that weighs less and uses less power is desirable, Holasek said.

"It's out of the laboratory and into the real environment," said Holasek, noting the system may also find use with private industry such as environmental mapping, agriculture, forestry and damage assessments.

"It's a key part of our strategic direction in pushing high technology out into the real world from our research and development."

The company also is involved in developing lens systems, systems related to search and rescue and other sensors, including one that can detect airborne sulfur dioxide.

The contract also marked a win for the state's technology sector, which has been pushing to become a bigger part of Hawai'i's economy. Lisa Gibson, president of the Hawaii Science and Technology Council, a group that advocates for the state's science and technology companies, said NovaSol has been one of the state's success stories. The company is one of the council's members.

"This is a good thing," said Gibson. "NovaSol is one of the bright spots in Hawai'i's aerospace/defense sector."

The work on the contract with the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division will be performed in Hawai'i, where NovaSol employees about two dozen staffers. The company, founded as Innovative Technical Solutions in 1998, also has an office in San Diego, where it has about a half dozen employees.

Its customers include the U.S. Navy, Army, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency and other defense-related agencies.

Reach Greg Wiles at gwiles@honoluluadvertiser.com.
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