George Mason Helps to Establish Consortium for Homeland Defense and Security

Posted: February 24, 2003 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Amy Biderman

George Mason is one of 12 universities in the commonwealth that have helped to establish the Virginia Institute for Defense and Homeland Security (IDHS). The university and industry research consortium will conduct research, education, and technology transfer in support of U.S. homeland security and defense objectives. The IDHS, which initially will be based at the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) in Herndon, is projected to evolve into a major research entity within three years.

Member institutions and firms will focus on telecommunications, biodefense, sensor systems, and risk management. At the same time, industry members will commercialize technology and develop solutions that support rapid deployment.

An executive steering committee representing academia, industry, and federal and state government will develop the consortium’s vision and policies. Funding will come from the federal government, participating universities, industry partners, and CIT. The commonwealth, participating universities, and CIT have committed a multimillion-dollar investment that consists of facilities, in-kind services, and cash grants.

In addition to George Mason, other founding members of the IDHS are the College of William and Mary, East Virginia Medical School, Hampton University, James Madison University, Norfolk State University, Old Dominion University, the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Military Institute, Virginia State University, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

To date, the IDHS has engaged 20 companies ranging from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies to participate. Each day, two to five new companies express interest in participation.

Recommendations for the consortium emerged from the Secure Virginia Initiative Panel, which met last fall. “This multiuniversity, cross disciplinary approach will facilitate collaborative, cutting-edge basic and applied research that would be difficult to accomplish at individual institutions or labs in a time-critical environment,” says Belle Wheelan, Virginia secretary of education, who helped establish the consortium.

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