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DARPA wants Biotech Companies

DARPA research

Science fiction… for now.

DARPA [Defense Advanced Research Project Agency] has a long history of making high-risk, high-reward moves. After all, they have helped shape the field for prosthetics, they have been pushing for big battlefield medical advancements and in 1997, they made a large effort to combat biological hazards.

A little more recently, it launched the Living Foundries Program. Which aims, as the name suggests, to create useful materials from cellular organisms like bacteria.

Then when the president announced his BRAIN  initiative, DARPA made a call for grant applications on projects to design therapeutic devices to help with neurological disorders and to repair brain damage for military service members.

Biological Technologies Office

Now, as of April 1st, DARPA announced a new division to add to the existing six. This one with the goal of attracting more Biotech companies  “Researchers should see this move as a recognition of the enormous potential of biological technologies,” Alicia Jackson, deputy director of the new Biological Technologies Office (BTO) said.

A familiar face for anyone who keeps up with DARPA, former DSO [Defense Sciences Office] deputy director and neurologist Geoffrey Ling, will direct the new division. Dr. Ling was a driving force for much of the neurological and prosthetic research that DARPA has been doing over the years.

As someone who I have personally spoken with, I am excited to  see what will come from this new expansion. Prior to this, among other research, Dr. Ling was the head of DARPA’s advancing prosthetics project. He takes his work with helping veterans and servicemembers very seriously and you can bet that there will be big things that come from this.

How much of DARPA’s  $2.9 billion in its requested 2015 budget will be given to this new division has yet to be seen, but this might just be what a starting biotech company needs to make a breakthrough. It also opens the door for companies that might not have thought to work with DARPA or may have never even heard of them.

For anyone who is interested in applying for a grant you can do so here.

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