The Ohio Federal Research Network awards $7.5 million in grants to advance unmanned aerial systems innovations

OFRN Press Release – February 20, 2020

DAYTON, Ohio — The Ohio Federal Research Network (OFRN) today announced that it has awarded $7.5 million in grants to six projects in round four of the organization’s Sustaining Ohio Aeronautical Readiness and Innovation Next Generation (SOARING) initiative that supports research and development of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) such as personal air vehicles and logistics delivery air vehicles.

SOARING funding leverages Ohio’s unique aerospace assets to assist recipients, listed below, in overcoming critical technical barriers and business challenges to enable more widespread adoption of UAS into the national airspace. This milestone is a major move for OFRN in its mission to improve the state’s innovation economy through R&D and to lead the nation within the UAS market by supporting collaborative arrangements among businesses, academia and the government.

The six projects are:

  • A Hybrid Fuel Cell-Battery-Capacitor Power Source for UAS led by Kent State University in Kent, Ohio
  • Resilient and Secure UAS Flight Control led by Asymmetric Technologies in Columbus, Ohio
  • Geometrically-Complex 3D Printed Antennas for UAVs led by Youngstown Business Incubator in Youngstown, Ohio
  • Multi-purpose Mast/Aerial 360O radar/optical fused sensors for Perimeter Monitoring and Aerial Detect and Avoid led by GhostWave Inc. in Columbus
  • Computer-Human Interaction for Rapid Program Analysis through Cognitive Collaboration led by Riverside Research in Beavercreek, Ohio
  • Interoperability, Resiliency, and Contingency Management for Ohio UAS Operations led by CAL Analytics in Beavercreek, Ohio

“The United States Air Force has aggressively enhanced its UAS capabilities over the last few years because they provide our Airmen more strategic level effects on the battlefield than any other weapon system in the inventory,” said Joseph Zeiss Jr., Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s senior adviser for aerospace and defense. “Programs such as OFRN’s SOARING will have a direct impact on our overcoming critical technical barriers, enable more widespread adoption of UAS into the national airspace, as well as position Ohio as a leader within the UAS industry. Ohio’s legacy in aviation and aerospace is internationally recognized and this program maintains that into the future.”

“American research universities have historically contributed to our Nation’s defense and security, leading to vital defense innovations, attracting the best and brightest talent from across the globe and enabling the creation of new business models that have evolved the wider economy,” said Randy Gardner, chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education. “Therefore, I believe that building and strengthening our relationships with programs and institutions supporting the United States defense ecosystem, such as OFRN, helps us in our effort to make education, particularly higher education, a priority.”

Each project was reviewed and selected by an independent Technical Review Council and OFRN Executive Review Board, based on SOARING requirements that are designed to accelerate R&D into real-world applications. Projects must focus on priority research initiatives of the Air Force Research Laboratory, Naval Medical Research Unit Dayton, National Air and Space Intelligence Center and National Aeronautical and Space Administration’s Glenn Research Center. Each project must include at least two Ohio universities, one industry member and engagement with an Ohio-based arm of a federal partner. Recipients must also provide a demonstration of the technologies they develop.

In the last four years, OFRN has leveraged $32 million in state funds to attract nearly $170 million in new research awards, and $350 million more in its funding pipeline. OFRN research projects include 14 universities and community colleges throughout the state and 90 industry partners.

About OFRN. OFRN is a unique applied research collaborative created by the Ohio General Assembly in 2015. OFRN’s intent is to create external investment and business opportunities for Ohio. OFRN’s vision is to drive innovation among Ohio’s research universities, community colleges and industry. OFRN focuses on priority research initiatives of Ohio-based federal partners, including: AFRL, NAMRU-D, NASIC and NASA-GRC.