There are a number of ways by which the general public can contribute to DARPA’s mission.
One way is by participating in the prize challenges that DARPA periodically launches .
There is a long history of using prizes to spur acceleration in technical fields. Indeed, from the 1714 Longitude Prize that led to the development of the world’s first practical method to determine a ship’s longitude … to the Orteig Prize that inspired Charles Lindbergh to fly nonstop from New York to Paris … to the 2011 Oil Cleanup X Challenge that resulted in the invention of a new and better way to skim oil from the ocean’s surface, prizes have a long record of spurring innovation.
Another way for members of the public to participate in DARPA programs is by responding to a DARPA Broad Agency Announcement (BAA). DARPA often publicizes its research efforts through the BAA process, which includes a public announcement of a technical goal and an invitation for proposals. BAAs are issued, and any resultant selections are made, using procedures under Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 35.016, and any negotiations and/or awards are processed using procedures under FAR 15.4, Contract Pricing, as specified in the BAA. Proposals received as a result of BAAs are evaluated in accordance with specified evaluation criteria through a scientific review process. Some BAAs are highly specific; DARPA’s technical offices also occasionally post office-wide BAAs inviting a range of innovative proposals. While some BAAs may be posted on the DARPA website for convenience, all DARPA BAAs are posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website, http://www.fbo.gov/, which is the official place to watch for funding opportunities for DARPA.
The preferred method for submitting ideas and concepts to DARPA, in lieu of unsolicited proposals, is to respond to an open solicitation. If an unsolicited proposal is submitted to DARPA it must adhere to the policies and procedures concerning the submission, receipt, evaluation and acceptance or rejection of unsolicited proposals set forth in FAR 15.6.
Our Polyplexus social collaboration platform is open to the public, and DARPA is especially interested in participation of current and retired researchers, scientists, and engineers. Through Polyplexus, DARPA aims to quicken the pace of U.S. technology development by applying the power of social networks to research and development. The platform facilitates connections among experts across academic disciplines so they can propel novel research opportunities together. It is composed of three integrated components: a public information feed where users can promote interesting research and connect it to other research via tweet-like summary statements called micropubs; a private tool for synthesizing new ideas, known as micropub portfolios; and an incubator environment. Incubators allow research sponsors in government and industry to post specific topics of interest and find research and development specialists to address their challenges. DARPA's Defense Sciences Office intends to fund a series of seedling efforts developed through the incubators. Sign up to become a "plexor" at https://polyplexus.com/users/login.
Yet another way to get involved is to interact with DARPA via social media. Follow us, friend us, and join the global conversation about our work.
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