Colleges and universities increasingly face pressure to take the lead in solving complex problems. Developing and sustaining interdisciplinary research centers that collaborate with community partners can be an effective method of approaching complex challenges. We use the example of interdisciplinary research centers designed to specifically work with tactical athlete organizations (e.g., military, police, fire) as one example of how research centers can be developed and produce important outcomes. A 10-step process is outlined for finding partners, executing projects, and growing research centers which are mutually beneficial to the partner organization and the academic institution. With vision, commitment, and persistence, interdisciplinary research centers can solve complex problems and have meaningful impacts in the community.