Public-Private Partnership Invests in Flexible Tech

The_Pentagon_January_2008The U.S Department of Defense is partnering with a broad range of private enterprises to promote research and development into the next generation of wearable technology. The FlexTech Alliance, headquartered in San Jose, California, includes scores of private companies, universities such as Cal Poly, Kent State, Northeastern, as well as the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, and the National Research Council Canada. Including money provided by local governments, the five-year funding total will total $171 million. “The Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Hub, which will be based in San Jose, is the seventh of nine such institutes planned by the Obama administration in an effort to revitalize the U.S. manufacturing base,” according to an article on Reuters.

With the DOD as a major partner, analysts are expecting many of the initial advancements to be military in nature. As a post on Gizmodo points out, “‘Flexible electronics’ is an extremely broad category of tech—it encompasses everything from bendy batteries to “connected” fabric. But the fact that the Pentagon is supplying almost half the funding gives us a hint at what we can expect from the experiment.”

The same Reuters article also mentions that “rapid development of new technologies around the globe is forcing the Pentagon to seek partnerships with the private sector rather than developing most of its technology itself, as it once did.” These public-private collaborations have the potential to provide the military with the brainpower it requires, as well as bring products to civilian markets that might not otherwise have the funding for development. According to a post on Engadget, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter wants his organization to start thinking “outside of our five-sided box.”

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