DOD launches university-industry teaming initiative

By Justin Doubleday / January 3, 2018 at 12:52 PM

The Defense Department is seeking proposals from university-industry partnerships to tackle high-priority basic research projects as part of a new "Defense Enterprise Science Initiative."

The initiative, also known as DESI, aims to incentivize "use-inspired basic research" by convening university and industry teams to work on defense and national security challenges, according to a Jan. 3 DOD announcement.

"Through these projects, DESI aims to accelerate the impact of basic research results on defense capabilities, inform existing or future acquisition programs, and support sustainable collaboration between the nation's universities and the private sector," DOD states.

This year, the initiative is seeking proposals focused on topics including power beaming, highly maneuverable autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles, soft active composites and metamaterial‐based antennas, according to the announcement. It says other topics will also be considered.

A Nov. 29 broad agency announcement released for DESI states the initiative's funding for fiscal year 2018 is expected to be about $6 million to support "approximately" four $1.5 million awards. Proposals are due by Feb. 28, the BAA states, and all of the awards are expected to be made by June 15, with each project lasting about two years.

Teams need to include at least one university member and one industry member, according to the BAA. The university partner must receive at least 50 percent of the funding, it continues.

"Industry's initial role in a DESI project is to provide a national security context for the defense challenge, and to collaborate with the university research team throughout the project," the BAA states.

"The university's role is to invent or discover knowledge that could be leveraged for completely new solutions to the defense challenge. As a follow-on to research conducted with DESI funding, the industry partner is expected to further develop the project's results into new capabilities that may be offered to DOD for future acquisition considerations."