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Study shows cooperative research with military labs driving billions in economic growth

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BOZEMAN, Mont. — An economic impact study released Tuesday demonstrates the powerful effect that cooperative research and development projects with Department of Defense laboratories have on U.S. businesses, the American economy, and national defense.

The study, a first-of-its-kind pilot for the DOD, shows that the U.S. businesses that created new or improved products and services through cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAs) at three representative DOD research laboratories contributed $23 billion to the U.S. economy between 1996 and 2018, supporting 118,929 jobs.

Each of the 413 companies that supplied sales figures and other data for the CRADA study had performed joint R&D with either the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center in Huntsville, Alabama, the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Indiana, or the Air Force Research Laboratory’s 711th Human Performance Wing located in Dayton, Ohio.

The data was collected directly from 413 companies by economic researchers at TechLink, the DOD’s national partnership intermediary for technology transfer. Companies were asked about sales of new products and services directly resulting from their CRADAs.

“For decades, military labs have partnered with private businesses to improve the capabilities of the armed forces and federal government, in our communities and around the nation,” said Brett Cusker, TechLink’s executive director. “The military’s research is based on the national defense mission but dual-use technologies are often created.”

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