Traditional defense contractors, corporations, and startups alike are critical parts of the innovation ecosystem in which DARPA operates, and all of these organizations—whether large or small—can serve as performers of DARPA-funded R&D to generate revolutionary technologies and capabilities. Additionally, industry partners can help transition DARPA-developed technologies from the laboratory into military or commercial applications.
The first step to working with DARPA is to review the agency’s current portfolio of programs at http://www.darpa.mil/our-research to learn more about the research thrusts that DARPA's technology offices support. From there, the best way to identify existing opportunities that bridge those priorities and your interests or expertise is to search for relevant Broad Agency Announcements (BAAs), which are DARPA’s primary means of advertising funding opportunities. DARPA BAAs, Requests for Proposals (RFPs), and Requests for Information can be found on the official federal acquisition opportunities websites, https://www.fbo.gov/ and www.grants.gov. To access DARPA opportunities directly on FBO, visit: https://go.usa.gov/xEK23. For convenience, a partial listing of DARPA opportunities can also be found on DARPA's Opportunities page.
DARPA’s Small Business Programs Office (SBPO) serves the small-business community, helping to expand small-business relationships and training opportunities within the Department of Defense and other federal agencies, and enabling the small-business community to create and transition game-changing technologies that benefit national security, the federal government, and the commercial marketplace. For information on Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) opportunities, please visit the For Small Business page. SBPO also offers commercialization and transition assistance to Phase II SBIR and STTR awardees to increase the potential for performers to move their technology into the military services, other federal agencies, and/or the commercial market.
The preferred method for submitting proposals to DARPA is to respond to one of the agency’s advertised solicitations. In addition to program-specific opportunities, each DARPA technical office maintains an “office-wide” BAA that covers a range of technical areas of interest. The office-wide BAAs are refreshed on an annual basis and offer a mechanism for researchers to reach DARPA with ideas that they feel could be valuable to national security but that are not directly relevant to program-specific BAAs. Partnerships are essential to success for all opportunities, and DARPA encourages aspiring performers to assemble multidisciplinary teams of researchers when developing proposals.
Alternatively, DARPA program managers (PM) are typically open to discussions of new research ideas, emerging technologies, and technology transition, and may be contacted directly via the email addresses included in their profiles. Visit http://www.darpa.mil/about-us/people to find a PM whose interests align with your field; for convenience, the New Program Managers web page features PMs who have started within the previous six months and may be contemplating new programs. In your message, use the Heilmeier Catechism as a guide to framing your ideas, and note that DARPA favors the submission of white papers over unsolicited proposals.
Finally, DARPA typically hosts Proposers Days to provide information on recently released or soon to be released BAAs. The purpose of these meetings is to provide information on the program, promote additional discussion, and address questions from potential proposers. Some Proposers Days also allow for registration of one-on-one meetings with the PM. Proposers Days are announced via Special Notices on www.fbo.gov and www.grants.gov.
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