The U.S. Army is seeking to tap the research and development resources of emerging bioscience companies through a new “consortium” and a streamlined procurement process for certain biotech-driven projects, a top Army biotech advisor told a Greater Baltimore Committee audience April 3.
“We consider that biotech, in 25 years, will have the same total effect on military strategy as IT does now,” said Dr. James J. Valdes, scientific advisor for biotechnology for the Army’s new Research, Development and Engineering Command. Valdes, who works from the Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County, was the featured speaker at the GBC’s second Bioscience Series event of 2006, held at the UMBC Technology Center.
The Army has made investing in biotechnology a top priority, but recognizes that it isn’t accustomed to interacting with the types of small emerging biotech businesses that are on the leading edge of a growing biotechnology revolution in the U.S., said Valdes. “Most small companies have trouble understanding what we (the Army) want and need, or even how to deal with us,” he said.
To address this issue, the Army is in the process of establishing a Consortium for Applied Biotechnology and will have to ability to fast-track the process of awarding research and development projects to small biotech firms that are accepted as members of the consortium.
The Army’s areas of interest for potential biotech projects include developing biofuels from waste, flexible body armor, camouflage, identification methods that can’t forged, biomarkers for stress and fatigue, and non-lethal methods for stopping a foe.
The Army expects to hold an “Industry Day” in June, at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, for companies interested in the Army’s biotech development initiative, said Valdes.