On September 30, we launched the National Bio and Agro Defense Facility (NBAF) Think and Do Challenge, our second prize competition under the America COMPETES Act. S&T is challenging thinkers, doers, and entrepreneurs to offer fresh approaches, unique ideas or proven methods to jumpstart the development of an instrument that enhances the NBAF’s role in shaping bio/agro security for the 21st century. At stake is up to $100,000 in total prize award funding to seed development or implementation of winning submission(s).
The $1.25 billion NBAF construction project in Manhattan, Kansas, is America’s biggest investment in federal laboratory infrastructure for the future of food security. At S&T, we envision NBAF – with its state-of-the-art capabilities – as a beacon that attracts partners and sparks innovation to tackle the biggest threats facing our animal agriculture. To fulfill this vision, we must forge deep connections to an ecosystem of supporting capabilities that will enhance NBAF when it is fully operational in 2022.
One may ask why we chose to conduct a prize competition for the NBAF now when the laboratory is several years from completion? The answer is straightforward: The U.S. agriculture industry contributes more than $1 trillion to our economy every year. To act on threats to this sector at the pace of innovation, NBAF must be equipped comprehensively to deliver the capabilities necessary to provide the best treatment and prevention of foreign animal diseases that threaten our food supply. In considering the NBAF’s Kansas strategic location within the capability-rich Kansas City Animal Health Corridor, we have a unique opportunity to position this new facility to meet tomorrow’s challenges on day one.
What better time to start than now?
The traditional role of federal laboratories is to serve as mission-focused centers of basic and applied research and development (R&D). The NBAF must look beyond this scope to meet tomorrow’s R&D challenges. It must become a primary capability and catalyst for disruptive innovations—those that may quickly tackle both pervasive and insidious threats to the bio/agro sector. It must also attract, train, mature and retain world-class talent, all while establishing connections to auxiliary capabilities that support its mission. Fragmented partnerships and loose connections will not get the job done. Without a smart strategy in place, we will struggle to capitalize on the NBAF’s prime location and the many benefits it will bring to the facility in the future.
Time is running out to participate in the challenge!
This prize competition, which concludes on November 30, is promoting a broad range of ideas to jumpstart support for the NBAF and will go a long way toward growing a vital ecosystem to support its mission. Register and submit your proposal today.
Dr. Reginald Brothers
Under Secretary for Science and Technology