Sunday, October 25, 2009

Targeting DOD Opportunities

How companies can best approach the military with hot technologies was discussed by Dave D. Hood, President DH3 and Associates at the AdvaMed2009 Conference held in Washington D.C. October 12-14, 2009 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The military at present is targeting specific areas such as infectious diseases, combat casualty care, military operational medicine research, medical chemical and biological defense research, and regenerative medicine to help with vision restoration, pain management, and prosthetics.

According to Hood, one of the first places to start targeting ideas is to go to where it is possible for innovative companies, entrepreneurs, and research organizations to propose potential solutions new products, services, prototypes, and concepts to DOD. DOD is constantly reviewing ideas and if DOD is interested, companies will be invited to submit a white paper.

As Hood pointed out, TATRC at Fort Detrick Maryland and other laboratories are good places for the medical community to look for opportunities. TATRC is developing product lines and core competencies in medical robotics, health IT, imaging, advanced prosthetics, computational biology, simulation, and in other areas.

Another viable program is the Fort Detrick Technology Transfer Initiative (FDTTI). The program provides awards to small businesses to support technology development projects. Emphasis is on developing those technologies that meet the medical needs of the Army as well as the commercialization of technologies developed at research laboratories at Fort Detrick.

FDTTI, companies can apply for and receive awards for up to $50,000 for eligible projects. Since the initiative was launched in 2005, 16 companies have received awards totaling $800,000

Also the Congressionally Directed Medical Research (CDMR) overall program looks for funding opportunities to find solutions to advance the prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment of military relevant psychological health issues and TBI. The funding is focused on innovative projects that can make a significant near-term impact on helping soldiers, veterans, families, caregivers, and communities.

Within CDMR, the Advanced Technology Therapeutic Development program is supporting promising new products, pharmacologic agents, behavioral interventions, devices, clinical guidance, emerging technologies, along with the possible integration of informatics and advanced computational research to better understand the intersection of psychological health and TBI.

Small businesses need to target products or services to the right government places and offices. In other words, treat the Government like a customer. For example, it is important to know what the Army Medical Command Health Care Acquisition Activity specifically buys in the area of direct healthcare and ancillary healthcare services.

The U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC) buys through the Medical Research Acquisition Activity and conducts programs in medical research, materiel development, medical logistics, medical information systems, and other new technologies. The USAMRMC is involved in basic research in the lab, interested in innovative product acquisition, and interested in the life cycle management of medical equipment and providing supplies for deploying units.

Hood recommends small companies to look into the SBIR and the STTR programs. DOD’s SBIR program funds early stage R&D projects at small technical companies where DOD has a need and there is a potential for commercialization. The DOD part of the SBIR program was funded at $1.23 billion in FY 09. The STTR program is a companion program and only differs in that the work must be performed by a small business in collaboration with nonprofit research organizations.

For a successful example, Ascension Technology Corporation through help from the DARPA SBIR program has produced a commercial medical system called 3D Guidance that can simultaneously track up to eight low cost disposable sensors. The technology is able to measure the position and orientation of each sensor in the patient and then is able to generate data for 3D visualization. Medical device manufacturers have an interest in this technology to be used in minimally invasive and image-guided products.

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