Defense Enterprise Science Initiative

August 7, 2018



DoD Announces Five DESI Awards for University-Industry Collaborations


The Department of Defense announced the selection of five university-industry teams for the Defense Enterprise Science Initiative (DESI). DESI is a pilot program supporting university-industry research collaboration focused on accelerating the impact of basic research on defense capabilities.  

DESI’s goals are twofold. First, it seeks to foster sustainable university-industry partnerships to identify and apply new discoveries and knowledge on existing capabilities and address technological gaps. DESI also aims to charter a new pathway to accelerate the transfer of basic research to innovative technologies and complement the Department’s other basic research programs such as the Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship, the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI), and the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP).

“Programs like DESI are vital to foster collaboration in the research ecosystem and accelerate the transition of ground-breaking basic science to transformative capabilities,” said Dr. Bindu Nair, Deputy Director for Basic Research. “I look forward to seeing how these teams can help us address our unique and challenging defense problem sets.” 

The awarded teams were selected from five topical areas: power beaming, highly-maneuverable autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), soft active composite materials, metamaterial-based antennas, and an alternate topics section for innovative proposals unaligned to the defined themes.   Each team will receive up to $1.5 million over two years to further fundamental knowledge and understanding in the context of end-use applications


FY18 DESI Topics and Teams

Topic                                                                             Team

Power Beaming                                                     Lead: The Boeing Company  (Topic Chief: Dr. Jason Marshall, Air Force)             Arizona State University 

                                                                                        Syracuse University


Highly‐maneuverable autonomous UAVs                  Lead: Stanford University 
(Topic Chief: Dr. Jean-Luc Cambier, Air Force)                        Skydio          


Soft Active Composites with Intrinsic Sensing,   Lead: Northwestern University

Actuation, and Control                                                      TERA-print, LLC
(Topic Chief, Dr. Samuel Stanton, Army)


Metamaterial-based Antennas                                      Lead: Duke University 
(Topic Chief: Dr. Harold Weinstock, Air Force)           University of Washington

                                                                                        Northrop Grumman

Alternate Topics Encouraged                                    Lead: Stanford University 
(Topic Chief: Dr. Stacie Williams, Air Force)    University of California, Merced 

                                                                                        Visor Corporation


DESI is sponsored by the Basic Research Office in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. The Air Force Office of Scientific Research administers the program in collaboration with the Army Research Office.

For more information on the Basic Research Office, please visit:

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