DOD and MedTech Startups

Are you developing a medical solution and need funding? If there is a potential military use for your approach, then check out the DOD.

Funding Programs Specifically Designed for Medtech Startups at the DoD

The Department of Defense (DoD) recognizes the importance of supporting innovation in the medical device and medtech sectors. To foster growth and advancement in these areas, they have established funding programs specifically designed for startups in this field.

One such program is the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. This program provides funding to small businesses engaged in research and development projects that have the potential to meet DoD’s specific needs. Through SBIR, medical device and medtech startups can access financial support to further develop their innovative ideas and technologies.

Additionally, the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program is another avenue for funding available to startups in this sector. STTR focuses on fostering partnerships between small businesses and nonprofit research institutions, with an emphasis on transferring technology from the lab to commercialization. This program offers a unique opportunity for medical device and medtech startups to collaborate with research institutions while receiving financial support from DoD.

Furthermore, DoD has various medical research programs that provide funding opportunities specifically targeted towards advancing healthcare technologies. These programs aim to address critical challenges faced by military personnel as well as enhance healthcare capabilities for civilian populations.

By leveraging these funding programs offered by DoD, medical device and medtech startups can accelerate their innovation journey, gain access to valuable resources, and ultimately contribute to improving healthcare outcomes both within military settings and beyond.


For funding medical research here in the US, the agency that typically comes to mind is the National Institutes of Health (NIH). While NIH represents the largest pool of federal funds for medical research, many early stage medical developments get their initial funding through the Department of Defense (DOD). One avenue that startups and small businesses can take to get funding from the DOD is the SBIR Program. In fact, the DOD is the largest participant in the US SBIR Program, with over $1 billion in SBIR funds being available through the DOD.

Differences between the DOD and other SBIR agencies

One of the major differences between the DOD and other agencies that take part in the SBIR Program is the specificity of the DOD topics. The DOD announces topics of interest hroughout the year. These topics are typically quite specific, addressing the needs of the military. So, it’s necessary to browse the DOD SBIR topics before deciding to apply to make sure your approach is a fit. The DOD allows potential applicants to discuss their proposal with Program Managers who handle the topics. It’s highly recommended that you discuss your proposal with the respective Program Manager before committing to putting a proposal together, which requires a significant time commitment.

What does the DOD look for in a proposal?

Another difference between the DOD and most of the other federal agencies is the desire to fund dual-use efforts: military and civilian. So, SBIR proposals should show that the proposed approach has both military and civilian applications. For most medical applications, dual-use is typically fairly easy to address given the similarity in health-related issues between the military population and civilian population. The difference between addressing health-related issues between these two populations is usually in the solution’s delivery. For example, a diagnostic tool for civilian use may be used in a clinic, while for military use the tool may need be used in the field.

Additional Funding Opportunities within DoD for Medical Device and Medtech Startups

In addition to the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, there are several other funding opportunities available within the Department of Defense (DoD) for medical device and medtech startups.

One avenue for funding is through grants and contracts offered by DoD agencies such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) or the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC). These agencies focus on advancing cutting-edge technologies in various fields, including healthcare.

DARPA, known for its ambitious and high-risk research projects, offers funding opportunities to startups that align with their mission. They prioritize projects that have the potential to revolutionize medical technology and improve patient care. TATRC, on the other hand, focuses specifically on advancing telemedicine and advanced technology in military healthcare settings.

These grants and contracts provide startups with not only financial support but also access to valuable resources, expertise, and networks within DoD. It is important for medical device and medtech startups to explore these additional funding avenues beyond SBIR/STTR programs to increase their chances of securing funding for their innovative projects.

By tapping into these resources within DoD agencies like DARPA or TATRC, startups can gain access to a broader range of funding opportunities that can further propel their growth in the medical device industry.

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is an agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for funding and conducting research and development projects. DARPA plays a crucial role in driving innovation and technological advancements in various fields, including medical devices and medtech startups.

DARPA’s funding programs provide support to innovative projects that have the potential to revolutionize healthcare and improve patient outcomes. They focus on areas such as medical device development, advanced diagnostics, bioengineering, and regenerative medicine.

Through its funding programs, DARPA aims to accelerate the development of cutting-edge technologies that can address critical challenges faced by the medical community. These challenges may include improving access to healthcare, enhancing patient care through advanced devices and therapies, or developing breakthrough solutions for medical emergencies.

For medtech startups, DARPA funding can be a game-changer. It provides financial support along with access to expert guidance and resources necessary for bringing their innovative ideas to fruition. Startups working on novel medical devices or technologies can leverage DARPA’s support to accelerate their research and development efforts.

Overall, DARPA’s focus on medical devices and medtech startups demonstrates its commitment to advancing healthcare technologies that have the potential to transform patient care. By providing funding opportunities and fostering collaboration between academia, industry, and government agencies, DARPA plays a vital role in shaping the future of medical innovation.

Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC)

The Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) is a prominent organization that plays a crucial role in advancing medical technology and innovation. TATRC focuses on funding programs that support the development of cutting-edge medical devices and technologies.

One of the key aspects of TATRC’s work is providing funding opportunities for research and development projects in the field of telemedicine and advanced technology. These funding programs aim to drive innovation and improve healthcare outcomes by supporting projects that address critical healthcare challenges.

TATRC’s areas of interest for medical device innovation and development are diverse, covering a wide range of healthcare domains. Some of these areas include but are not limited to telehealth technologies, mobile health applications, wearable devices, artificial intelligence in healthcare, virtual reality applications for medical training, and robotics in healthcare.

By supporting research projects in these areas, TATRC aims to foster collaborations between academia, industry, and government entities to accelerate the development and deployment of advanced medical technologies. Through their funding programs, TATRC provides opportunities for researchers and innovators to explore novel approaches that have the potential to revolutionize patient care.

Overall, the Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) plays a vital role in promoting advancements in medical technology through its funding programs. By focusing on key areas of interest for medical device innovation and development, TATRC contributes significantly to improving healthcare delivery and patient outcomes.

Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP)

The Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) is a unique funding mechanism that supports innovative and impactful medical research initiatives. Established by the U.S. Congress, the CDMRP aims to address critical gaps in medical knowledge and advance treatments for various diseases and conditions.

Through the CDMRP, Congress designates specific funding allocations for targeted research areas, such as cancer, traumatic brain injury, autism, and many others. This program allows researchers to pursue projects that may not receive sufficient funding through traditional grant mechanisms.

One of the key features of the CDMRP is its peer-reviewed process. Proposals are evaluated by panels of scientific experts who assess their scientific merit and potential impact on improving patient outcomes. This rigorous review process ensures that only the most promising research projects receive funding.

The CDMRP has played a crucial role in advancing medical breakthroughs across a wide range of disciplines. It has supported groundbreaking studies that have led to new diagnostic tools, therapies, and prevention strategies. Moreover, it fosters collaboration between scientists from different institutions and encourages interdisciplinary approaches to tackle complex medical challenges.

Researchers who secure funding through the CDMRP gain access to valuable resources and support networks that enhance their ability to make significant contributions in their respective fields. Additionally, this program promotes transparency by providing regular updates on funded projects’ progress and outcomes.

In summary, the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) plays a vital role in driving innovative medical research efforts across various domains. By providing targeted funding for critical areas of study and fostering collaboration among scientists, it paves the way for advancements in healthcare that can improve patient care and save lives.

Tips for Successfully Applying to DoD Funding Programs

When applying to Department of Defense (DoD) funding programs, it is crucial to follow certain tips to increase your chances of success. This section will provide you with valuable insights on how to navigate the application process effectively.

First and foremost, it is essential to thoroughly research the specific funding program you are applying for. Understanding the program’s goals, priorities, and requirements will enable you to tailor your proposal accordingly. Take note of any specific criteria or preferences outlined in the program guidelines.

Crafting a strong proposal and research plan is vital in securing DoD funding. Clearly articulate your project’s objectives, methodologies, and anticipated outcomes. Emphasize how your work aligns with the DoD’s mission and addresses their current needs or challenges.

Avoid common mistakes that can undermine your application. Carefully proofread all documents for errors or inconsistencies. Ensure that all requested information is provided accurately and completely. Pay attention to formatting guidelines and submission deadlines.

Collaboration is often encouraged in DoD funding programs. Consider forming partnerships with other organizations or researchers who can contribute complementary expertise or resources to enhance your proposal’s strength.

Lastly, seek feedback from experts in the field before submitting your application. Engage mentors or colleagues who have experience with DoD funding programs or grant writing in general. Their insights can help refine your proposal and increase its competitiveness.

By following these tips, you can maximize your chances of successfully securing DoD funding for your research project while avoiding common pitfalls along the way.

Conclusion: Seize the Funding Opportunities Available at DoD to Propel Your Medical Device or Medtech Startup

In conclusion, taking advantage of the funding opportunities available at the Department of Defense (DoD) can have a significant impact on the growth and innovation of your medical device or medtech startup. The benefits of securing DoD funding are numerous and can propel your startup to new heights.

Firstly, DoD funding provides a substantial source of capital that can be used for research and development, manufacturing, marketing, and other crucial aspects of your business. This financial support can help accelerate product development timelines and bring your innovative medical device to market faster.

Additionally, receiving DoD funding not only provides financial support but also lends credibility to your startup. The rigorous evaluation process involved in securing DoD funding demonstrates that your technology has the potential for significant impact in the field of healthcare. This validation can attract additional investors and strategic partnerships, further fueling your startup’s growth.

Moreover, collaborating with the DoD opens doors to valuable resources such as access to cutting-edge research facilities, expert guidance from seasoned professionals, and networking opportunities within the defense industry. These resources can enhance your product development capabilities and provide invaluable insights into regulatory compliance requirements.

Furthermore, by aligning with the mission of the DoD to improve healthcare outcomes for military personnel and veterans, you have an opportunity to make a meaningful societal impact while growing your business. The potential market reach extends beyond just military applications as successful innovations often find their way into civilian healthcare settings as well.

Interested in DOD funding?

Tell us about your project and we'll give you feedback on potential DOD opportunities.

More Insights


Both SBIR and STTR funding programs offer opportunities for small businesses to access capital that can help them advance their innovative ideas into marketable products or services.

Read More