Biological Technologies Office -- Reefense

Funding Agency:
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

Reefense seeks to develop selfhealing, hybrid biological, and engineered reef-mimicking structures to mitigate the coastal flooding, erosion, and storm damage that increasingly threaten civilian and Department of Defense (DoD) infrastructure and personnel. Under Reefense, custom wave-attenuating base structures will promote calcareous reef organism (coral or oyster) settlement and growth, which will enable the system to self-heal and keep pace with sea level rise over time. A system will be put in place that will also attract non-reef building organisms necessary to help maintain a healthy, growing system. Finally, adaptive biology (other than genetically modified organisms) will enable improved coral and oyster resilience against disease and temperature stress, to ensure compatibility with a changing environment.


o Proposal Abstract Due Date and Time: February 22, 2021, 4:00 PM ET

o Full Proposal Due Date and Time: April 14, 2021, 4:00 PM ET

Agency Website

Areas of Interest

Proposers are expected to select from one of two environment/organism combinations for their envisioned Reefense efforts. Test sites where performance will be evaluated are both envisioned to be in Florida or the Caribbean region. However, the exact site locations will be chosen by the Government team and evaluated for reef slope, proximity to shore, depth, and other parameters that will be provided to teams during Phase 1. The two evaluation sites, with their respective organisms, are:

1. U.S. Gulf Coast (oyster reef approaches)

2. South Florida or Caribbean (coral reef approaches)

Additional or alternate sites may be contemplated, and early stage field-testing by performers can occur in additional geographies as well.

The program is comprised of three technical areas (TAs). While only one organism type should be proposed, performer teams must propose to all TAs for that organism type, in order to produce fully integrated systems. Proposals that do not address all TAs as characterized within this section will be deemed non-conforming and not considered for review.

  • Technical Area 1: Substrate Design and Structure
  • Technical Area 2: Ecosystem Engineering
  • Technical Area 3: Adaptive Biology

Eligibility Requirements

It is expected that proposals will involve multidisciplinary teams that include expertise from multiple complementary disciplines (e.g., coral and/or oyster biology, chemistry, engineering, epigenetics, marine ecology, hydrodynamics, data science, acoustics, analytics, oceanography, and physics). Specific content, communications, networking, and team formation are the sole responsibility of the proposer teams. Proposer teams must submit a single, integrated proposal led by a single program integrator/manager or prime contractor that addresses all program phases as applicable.

Funding Type





Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences

External Deadline

April 14, 2021