Research agreements yield results


RDECOM Public Affairs

Cooperative research and development agreements advance scientific and engineering knowledge through partnerships. The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command has more than 250 of these agreements, known as CRADAs, with industry, universities and other government agencies to help expedite research goals.

“These CRADAs are with small businesses, large businesses and entities across the globe on matters of interest to Army research and development,” said Kendra Meggett-Karr, RDECOM Technology Transfer program manager.

CRADAs are formal agreements between one or more federal laboratories or research centers and one or more non-federal organizations. The government, through its laboratories, provides personnel, facilities, equipment or other resources with reimbursement from the partnering entity.

Non-federal partners also provide personnel, funds, services, facilities, equipment or other resources to conduct specific research and development that is consistent with the RDECOM mission.

“CRADAs provide an easy way to collaborate with us,” said Army Research Laboratory spokesman Tom Moyer. “CRADAs allow ARL researchers to exchange technical expertise with non-federal partners and to accept reimbursement for research conducted under the CRADA.”

CRADAs also protect a researcher’s rights and those of ARL to a researcher’s inventions. CRADAs work best when ideas, staff, materials and equipment are to be exchanged over a period of time for the purpose of collaboration and/or an invention may result, he said.

Of the 262 active CRADAs, 48 are with small businesses and 68 are with large businesses, Meggett-Carr said. There are also 19 active agreements with universities and many more with other government agencies.

RDECOM recently stood up a Technology Transfer Office.

“As dollars dwindle, we all realize the need to be more creative in how we go about developing technologies. CRADAs provide a means to leverage research budgets and optimize resources,” Meggett-Carr said. “Partnering with industry also helps us all on an economic level. Part of the mandate of the T2 mission from the president is to stimulate economic growth. CRADAs allow private industry to provide funds as well as other resources to assist with the commercialization of technology.”

Technology transfer also allows industry to take military technology and market it for commercial use. This can also be accomplished with the use of the Patent License Agreement.

“The commercial sector is able to build successful businesses and stimulate the economy,” she said. “This has happened with GPS this was a military application in the beginning, that found its way into commercial markets. That’s part of the overall T2 mission at a very high level.”

“We are in the business of partnering with outside entities to do exploratory studies and basic research,” Meggett-Carr said. “We attend conferences and scientific talks with the goal of getting our name out there. We are actively seeking partnerships. RDECOM can develop what is known as a master CRADA and help industry or academia to find the particular research area within our organization.”

There are test service agreements where industry wants to use Army facilities, goods, services and its knowledge base. Industry is required to pay for that.

Kendra Meggett-Karr

Kendra Meggett-Karr

“If people are looking to do a CRADA because it will be profitable for them, in the sense that a contract might be profitable, that is not the case,” Meggett-Carr said. “It is a true partnership where the organizations come to the table with a shared interest and common goal.”

CRADAs are generally three years in with an option to extend.

“Many universities continue to extend because they want to keep the partnership going. I know they get a lot of our scientists to come and work with them, and vice versa,” Meggett-Carr said.

RDECOM maintains a database of the partnerships for record keeping. Meggett- Carr said her office intends to expand the capability of the database. “That way we can keep a better handle on who’s partnering with specific entities.”

“What RDECOM is trying to do to streamline the process for our partners and provide a master CRADA,” Meggett-Carr said. “CRADAs speed up scientific research efforts that enhance the entire Army acquisition program.”

“Whether it’s through bringing the experts together through partnerships or by leveraging someone else’s technology to expedite a particular weapons system or technology, it’s all working to support our Soldiers,” Meggett-Carr said. “And, it makes sense, not only to the warfighter, but to the taxpayer. It makes sense to share these resources – to provide better materiel for the warfighter.”

RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army’s premier provider of materiel readiness — technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment — to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.