With the current pace of technology advancement, insular research and development organizations will rapidly lose relevance and value. The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Army Research Laboratory has adopted business practices that have created a truly collaborative research environment between it and the private sector in select technology areas. DEVCOM ARL has also provided the Army access to private sector sources of research with the requisite diversity and quality.

Currently, ARL collaboratively executes its research program with over 250 academic partners in all 50 states and to industry through a mix of grants, cooperative agreements, other transaction agreements, or contracts.

Single Investigator Program

DEVCOM ARL’s Single Investigator Program, executed through the Army Research Office, typically supports 900 academic principal investigators per year, and allows the Army to leverage world-class academic expertise, rapidly exploit novel scientific opportunities, and provides the venue to have many minds working multiple pathways.

University Centers

University Centers executed by DEVCOM ARL are university led initiatives that are focused on S&T issues of critical importance to the Army. Examples include the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI) at the University of Maryland.

Collaborative Technology Alliances (CTAs)

DEVCOM ARL’s Collaborative Technology Alliances (CTAs) are government, industry, and academia research partnerships focused on Army Modernization in which the expertise resident in the private sector can be leveraged to address Army challenges. The alliances include participation from Army labs, other service labs, other DOD agencies, and other U.S. Government agencies. These alliances are cooperative agreements for core research with task order contracts to facilitate technology transition. Funding is allocated for novel research proposals from outside the alliances. The CTAs have 5- to 8-year durations and are resourced at $3 million to $8 million per year.

DOD Multi-Disciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI)

DEVCOM ARL successfully competes for DOD Multi-Disciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) funding. This funding provides DEVCOM ARL an additional opportunity to focus academic research on Army S&T challenges.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities/Minority Institutions Program (HBCU/MI)

The objective of DEVCOM ARL’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities/Minority Institutions (HBCU/MI) program is to address the projected shortfall of scientists and engineers among the diverse populations of the 21st century, leverage HBCU/MI technical capabilities to fulfill DEVCOM ARL requirements, and expand the involvement of HBCU/MIs in ongoing research at ARL. ARL presently has Education Partnerships with six HBCU/MIs.

Educational Partnership Agreements (EPAs)

Educational Partnership Agreements (EPAs) provide DEVCOM ARL the means to assist universities in extending their research capabilities in areas relevant to Army needs and provide an opportunity for students to work on degrees in programs of interest to DEVCOM ARL. Benefits to the Army are two-fold. First, the university develops scientific and engineering expertise applicable to future Army needs. Second, students working on DEVCOM ARL-sponsored research receive an early exposure to DEVCOM ARL thereby expanding the possible talent pool for future recruitment.

Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADA) / Patent License Agreements

Creative partnerships through Cooperative Research and Development Agreements encourage outside businesses and university organizations to share in the discovery of and investment in science and technology. Patent License Agreements permit DEVCOM ARL to share important mission breakthroughs with industry, pushing the technology to commercial applications. Technology transfer programs and partnerships with outside R&D organizations will continue to play a central role in DEVCOM ARL’s technology development strategy.

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program

DEVCOM ARL is proactive in its efforts to partner with small business. Through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program the Army gains access to the technological advances of small, innovative firms with fewer than 500 employees. The Army provides funding, per Public Law 106-554, for high-quality research and development (R&D) proposals of innovative concepts to solve Army/DoD related scientific and engineering problems, especially those concepts that also have a high potential for commercial use. DEVCOM ARL SBIR projects and our small business partners are regularly recognized for their technical expertise.

International Collaborative Activities

DEVCOM ARL makes full use of international collaborative activities with allied defense establishments and academic institutions to leverage our mission funded research investments. DEVCOM ARL has a vigorous international program with the lead on numerous active and proposed bilateral agreements, as well as support to other Department of the Army (DA) and Department of Defense (DOD) agencies in their cooperative programs. These agreements enable cooperative research programs with allies in selected technology areas where their strengths complement DEVCOM ARL’s and offer good leveraging opportunities.

Economic Development Organizations

DEVCOM ARL participates with technology-based economic development organizations to commercialize DEVCOM ARL technology and to gain access to non-traditional customers and partners. Joint projects and partnerships with Aberdeen Proving Ground R&D tenants, Maryland Technology Development Corporation business clients, other local economic development organizations, and the Federal Laboratory Consortium allow DEVCOM ARL to develop, demonstrate, and commercialize technology for both the defense and civilian uses.


The Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ASA(ALT)) is sponsoring the Army Expeditionary Technology Search – xTechSearch – that highlights opportunities for small businesses to collaborate with the Army to tackle the most critical Army modernization challenges.

The ASA(ALT) recognizes that the Army must enhance engagements with the entrepreneurial funded community, small businesses, and other non-traditional defense entities. The xTechSearch program will provide resourcing to select small businesses to demonstrate proof of concept for their technologies pertaining to Army challenges. The program will also integrate these small businesses into the Army’s S&T ecosystem by providing research opportunities with Army labs, including access to the Army’s organic intellectual and technical capital.

xTechSearch is an opportunity for businesses to pitch novel technology solutions – a new application for an existing technology or a new technology concept entirely – to the Army. The Army will provide non-dilutive seed prizes for the small businesses to demonstrate proof of concept in an Army-relevant challenge area.

The authority of this program is 15 United States Code (USC) §3719.