One government agency is looking for the next leap in biotechnology by recruiting "revolutionary" ideas that have yet to be funded by the government.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Biological Technologies Office earlier this month published a broad-agency announcement seeking creative new ideas to tackle impossible tasks for future military or national security missions.
"The mission of BTO is to leverage biology as a technology to solve intractable problems ... [via] advances in engineering and computer science to drive and reshape biotechnology for national security," the announcement said.
In other words, DARPA is looking for any and all untested ideas that might give the U.S. military a biotech advantage in future missions.
To find the tech of the future, DARPA is willing to experiment with nearly anything, "including but not limited to human-machine interfaces, human performance, infectious disease, and synthetic biology." Inventors have to be comfortable with their creations potentially being used by future soldiers: "The overarching goal is to develop, demonstrate, and transition biologically-based technologies as part of the national security toolkit."
Make no mistake, DARPA wants to find the latest advancements to ensure the United States has the latest biotech solutions to prevent "surprises" in warfare.
"The potential contributions of the proposed effort are relevant to the national technology base. Specifically ... to maintain the technological superiority of the U.S. military and prevent technological surprise from harming national security by sponsoring revolutionary, high-payoff research that bridges the gap between fundamental discoveries and their application," the notice said.
One important catch: any of the proposed awards have to stay under the $700,000 price point. But proposers have to keep their suggestions "realistic."
"The proposal will be reviewed to determine if the costs proposed are based on realistic assumptions, reflect a sufficient understanding of the technical goals and objectives ... the proposed costs [must be] realistic for the technical and management approach offered and determines the proposer’s practical understanding of the effort, the DARPA announcement states.
More than anything, the agency wants "unconventional approaches that are outside the mainstream" that have the "potential to radically change established practice."
To find the tech of the future, DARPA is willing to experiment with nearly anything, “including but not limited to human-machine interfaces, human performance, infectious disease, and synthetic biology.”
And don't even think about submitting an idea that isn't your own: DARPA requires documentation to prove that applicants haven't lifted an idea from another creative type.
"Proposers must include documentation proving its ownership of or possession of appropriate licensing rights to all patented inventions (or inventions for which a patent application has been filed) that will be utilized under its proposal."
If you think you have the next best design for a super biotech soldier, check out the entire DARPA proposal here.