Dr. Steven Wax, performing the duties of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Science and Technology, recently concluded a visit to two of the Department of Defense's nine Manufacturing Innovation Institutes. The visit included both the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute/BioFabUSA and Advanced Functional Fabrics of America.
MIIs were created to revitalize U.S. manufacturing capabilities through domestic public-private partnership designed to enhance competitiveness within the innovation ecosystem. Today there are 17 MIIs nationwide, nine operated by DOD.
BioFabUSA, located in Manchester, New Hampshire, brings together the manufacturing process for science of regenerative medicine to create regenerative manufacturing. It has more than 170 members including corporations, academia, and not-for-profit organizations.
"Dr. Wax is a trusted collaborator who I have had the opportunity to work with from his time at DARPA," said Dean Kamen, Executive Director, and Chairman of the Board for BioFabUSA. "Thanks to his leadership along with others at the Department of Defense, America is building the biofabrication industry. This new industry will be responsible for manufacturing lifesaving, restorative therapies for injured warfighters and veterans, and will transform treatments for traumatic injuries and chronic illness for all Americans."
During the visit, Kamen briefed Wax about future capabilities that are being developed a BioFabUSA such as on-demand battlefield red blood cell production, on-demand battlefield IV fluid production, and biofabricated ligaments and tendons used to repair musculoskeletal injuries.
"Regenerative medicine will no doubt become an important asset at the DOD," Wax said. "These innovative capabilities are just one of many reasons successful technology transitions are needed."
AFFOA, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, transforms traditional fibers, yarns, and textiles into integrated and networked systems that will allow fabrics to become a tech-enabled products.
AFFOA leadership team, including Chief Executive Officer Dr. Sasha Stolyarov, demonstrated active textile capabilities that can utilize light-based communications and aid in warfighter rehabilitation.
"The active textiles being developed at AFFOA will provide a strategic advantage to the warfighter," Wax said. "Military uniform fabrics that can store power and sense potential hazards are truly a game-changing technology."
AFFOA, like all MIIs, collaborates with industry, academia, and government partners to identify solutions for targeted issues.
"Dr. Wax's visit to AFFOA highlights the Department of Defense's commitment to the manufacturing innovation institutes and the growing importance that we serve as part of the Department's innovation ecosystem," Stolyarov said. "We had the opportunity to discuss how AFFOA is bringing industry, academia, and government stakeholders together to address critical challenges for the nation. AFFOA is grateful for the partnership with the DOD and looks forward to further strengthening the collaboration in the years ahead."
Both MIIs have a unique technology concentration and work with DOD to effectively transition capabilities into production.
"DOD is committed to an accelerated technology transition for the prototypes that have the best long-term operational value for the department," said Wax. "The DOD is actively collaborating with our interagency partners to develop the best processes to field capabilities at speed and scale."