New UA-affiliated Corporation Targets Defense Research

The University of Arizona has launched a new research corporation focused on solving complex national security problems.

The University of Arizona Applied Research Corp., or UA-ARC, will leverage existing and emerging UA research strengths including optics, hypersonics, quantum information science, artificial intelligence and machine learning, cybersecurity, aerospace, and medicine to solve some of the most complex problems facing the nation.

“The University of Arizona is already a recognized leader in these critical technologies,” said UA President Robert C. Robbins. “This corporation allows us to leverage these strengths and dedicate resources, facilities and intellectual capital to the development of the next several generations of technology that will drive our economy and impact our lives in myriad ways in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In turn, the UA-ARC will further lift our research profile and provide access to problem sets that traditionally have not been our primary focus.”

UA leaders have long recognized the opportunities surrounding an affiliated research corporation focused on national security challenges and are launching the UA-ARC at a time when the Department of Defense budget is increasing. Last May, Congress passed a nearly $660 billion fiscal year 2018 defense budget as part of the omnibus spending bill, representing a more than a 14 percent increase year-over-year.

“We will work with defense, security and intelligence community sponsors to conduct the kind of research that will satisfy the cost, schedule and performance metrics that drive the federal government procurement process,” said Austin K. Yamada, president and CEO of the University of Arizona Applied Research Corp. “Our nation faces many threats to national security that require the best and brightest minds to help develop solutions to existing as well as emerging problems, and many of the best minds in the country are at the UA.”

The nonprofit corporation will be structured to meet stringent federal requirements for defense, security and intelligence projects. The federal requirements include nonprofit reporting requirements as well as cost accounting, security and other regulatory requirements not required for current research projects at the UA.

The UA-ARC is the next generation of what began as the UA Defense and Security Research Institute, and DSRI staff will be assigned to the new corporation. Yamada said the UA-ARC will enable UA researchers to gain insight into top national security research priorities and participate in programs designed to enhance national security.

“The University of Arizona has traditionally been very successful in garnering grants and awards from some of the top research funding agencies," Yamada said, referring to organizations such as the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and NASA. “But when we looked at the white space on the UA research pie chart, we believe we have a lot of room for improvement in executing research projects needed by the national security community.”

The UA-ARC will operate as a separate legal entity, governed by a board of directors composed of representatives from the UA and independent directors. The UA’s president and provost will serve as the members of the corporation and will elect the board. The board will oversee the UA-ARC to ensure alignment with UA goals and objectives. Commercially viable discoveries made by UA-ARC researchers will be assigned to Tech Launch Arizona and handled in the same manner as UA intellectual property.

“The opportunity here is to leverage our foundational strengths in research and extend that to applied research to identify unique solutions to complex problems in national defense,” Yamada said. “We need to bring the smartest minds to bear on some of biggest national security issues faced by this country.”