An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

News | Aug. 15, 2022

Chilean Companies Win Big in U.S. Army International Competition

By Steven McLoud / U.S. Southern Command Public Affairs

Wrapping up its second international search for novel science and technology innovations, the U.S. Army xTech Program awarded two first-place honors to small businesses from Chile. With the award, it shows that Latin American innovators are creating a platform for future collaboration with the Army. 

In July, the xTechInternational competition announced five winners and is the follow-on competition to xTechGlobal, which concluded in September 2021 and sought out artificial intelligence solutions. The xTechInternational competition focused on synthetic biology, electric power/energy and water from small to medium international businesses. Competitors from Chile came out on top in two topic areas: the Bioscience Foundation from Santiago, Chile, in synthetic biology, and Plasma Waters from Concón, Chile, in water. 

The Office of the U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology hosted the competition with support from various other entities including the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, (DEVCOM), which is the Army’s technology leader and largest developer providing it with an organic research and development capability.

DEVCOM also has three regionally aligned international elements, the DEVCOM-Atlantic; Pacific; and Americas, with the latter headquartered in Santiago, Chile. DEVCOM explores collaborative opportunities within North, Central and South America that can close mission gaps for the Army.
Harry DuRette, DEVCOM-Americas deputy director, and J.M. Larenas, DEVCOM-Americas science and technology advisor tracked the successes of the Chilean-based small businesses as they progressed through the competition. 

“DEVCOM-Americas has a mission to find novel, disruptive science and technologies within Latin America that align with Army needs. We have been successful in building these relationships and international collaborations,” Larenas said. “xTech offers support so small businesses can make it in the bigger leagues. DEVCOM-Americas and programs like xTech provide an opportunity to leverage good science from Chile and LATAM, and get it to the U.S,” he added.

Bioscience, which won the award in synthetic biology, is dedicated to extremophile research in Latin America and has achieved an innovative and clean approach to obtaining metallic nanoparticles biosynthetically produced by extremophilic microorganisms. An extremophile is an organism that is tolerant to environmental extremes and has evolved to grow optimally under one or more of these extreme conditions.

For the Army, this technology could be applied to reducing corrosion on equipment. The business is currently collaborating with DEVCOM on a bio-corrosion project for vehicles and structures performing in extreme environments, and it is also exploring bio-molecules that could manufacture smart materials for clothing.  

Plasma Waters, which won the water finals event on July 15 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has dedicated themselves to producing safe water from any source for Soldiers in the field, rather than relying on bulk distribution, chemicals, and bottled water. The company has developed a technology that can transform contaminated water into non-thermal plasma and eliminate all microorganisms, such as viruses and bacteria. Soldiers would no longer face a limited or contaminated water supply on the ground or on military installations.

DuRette noted that the wins of Bioscience and Plasma Water show that LATAM small businesses can and do compete very well on international Science and Technology competitions, setting the stage for future successes.

“The science frequently seen in LATAM has a very applied aspect to it because they’re trying to solve a specific problem, which falls in line with Army modernization priorities,” DuRette said. “The Army is looking at what we can integrate into our systems now.”