Army taps venture capital for tech

The Army today announced a venture capital initiative aimed at obtaining lighter, more efficient power sources for soldier-carried systems.

The goal of the initiative is to jump-start promising portable power and energy technologies in order to lighten soldiers' loads as they operate worldwide in extreme environments and challenging conditions. It will focus its investment activities on innovative technology companies, including those that normally may not do business with the Army.

"Power and energy technologies are an opportune area for Army investment, particularly because the Army's interests parallel those fueling the commercial market," A. Michael Andrews II, the service's chief scientist and deputy assistant secretary for research and technology, said in a statement. "Finding new energy sources for soldiers is akin to a search for better power solutions for handheld computers, ... personal digital assistants and cell phones. Lighter and smaller is better."

The effort will be managed by a nonprofit corporation, which will be modeled on the CIA's venture capital initiative, In-Q-Tel Inc. Funds will be provided from basic and applied research accounts, according to the Army.

The Army worked with a Rand Corp. board of advisers to select OnPoint Technologies Inc., of Maitland, Fla., to manage the initiative.

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