Award

Self-erecting bed net

An epic technology transfer journey that began as an idea 14 years ago has resulted in the fielding of a new personal protection shelter in Iraq and Afghanistan, and commercialization makes this same innovation available for use in your own backyard. A 1996 Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) between the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) and private industry resulted in a self-erecting bed net that folds down to Frisbee®-sized 12-inch-diameter packages that weigh only two pounds. When released, the bed net instantly pops up to its full size, ready for use on a cot or the bare ground. The invention could benefit millions of people around the world, including the inhabitants of countries plagued by insect-borne diseases, American military personnel, and even your next weekend camping expedition. Anyone who has ever spent a night in a mosquito-infested environment understands the stress caused by the relentless buzzing and biting of insects. For most of us, the result is lost sleep. However, many parts of the world are held hostage by diseases transmitted through the bites of mosquitoes and other arthropods. Diseases such as malaria, dengue, and Yellow Fever present challenges in many parts of Africa, Asia, and South America. An estimated 500 million people contract malaria each year, and 1 million people, mostly children, die of the disease. Military campaigns have failed because of insect-borne diseases. Even in the 21st century, American military operations have been dramatically hindered by arthropods. Closer to home, West Nile and related afflictions have made headlines in recent years. Acutely aware of the challenges posed by biting insects and concerned with the shortcomings of the military bed net in use at the time, Col. Raj Gupta of WRAIR assembled a team of outdoor product manufacturing and insect repellent experts under a CRADA in 1996 to develop a better bed net. The result of the collaboration was a revolutionary self-erecting bed net and a patent covering the invention. After years of refinement and testing in farflung places such as Papua New Guinea and the Amazon Basin, Col. Gupta and the original CRADA partners succeeded in making the bed net available to U.S. troops. In 2008, both partners licensed the patent covering the technology. Today, nearly a decade and a half after the beginning of its technology transfer odyssey, the self-erecting bed net is widely used by the U.S. military and available for purchase by the public. Further enhancements to the bed net design by the licensees have created weatherproof tents that have also been transitioned back to the military and purchased by outdoor weekend warriors.
Award Year: 
Region: 
Mid-Atlantic