Washington University in St. Louis | OVCR


For more than fifty years, DARPA has held to a singular and enduring mission: to make pivotal investments in breakthrough technologies for national security.

The Director and Deputy Director approve each new DARPA program and review ongoing programs, while setting Agency-wide priorities and ensuring a balanced investment portfolio. The Director of DARPA is appointed by the President.

DARPA's FY2016 enacted budget is $2.87 billion. The President's FY2017 budget request for DARPA is $2.97 billion. These numbers reflect a relative stabilization of DARPA’s budget after several years of declines. Specifically, from FY 2009 to FY 2013 DARPA’s budget declined 20 percent in real terms (including the 8 percent across-the-board sequestration cut in FY 2013). Today, in real terms, DARPA’s budget remains about 13 percent below 2009 levels.


DARPA is looking for smart people with great ideas to solve really hard problems, and they have program managers that have flexibility to develop innovative programs. They are looking for "out of the box" thinking and approaches that would be too risky for traditional funding agencies.
DARPA is not like other, more traditional, agencies, in that they don’t send out RFAs and hope that lots of scientists respond. They have a much more targeted approach. 
Instead, it is highly recommended that you learn about the interests and programs of the program managers, which are posted on the DARPA website (see below for links to each office). If you have ideas that might resonate with a particular program manager, you are highly encouraged to communicate directly with the program manager about your ideas. If the program manager is intrigued by your ideas, pilot funding and RFAs may stem from these conversations. RFAs often stem from pilot funding projects.


Overview of DARPA Offices

Biological Technologies Office (BTO) From programmable microbes to human-machine symbiosis, biological technologies are expanding our definition of technology and redefining how we interact with and use biology.

Focus Areas: Bio-complexity | Bio-systems | Disease | Health | Med-Devices | Syn-Bio

Defense Sciences Office (DSO)  The Defense Sciences Office (DSO) identifies and pursues high-risk, high-payoff fundamental research initiatives across a broad spectrum of science and engineering disciplines – sometimes reshaping existing fields or creating entirely new disciplines – and transforms these initiatives into radically new, game-changing technologies for U.S. national security.

Focus Areas: Autonomy | Complexity | Fundamentals | Materials | Math | Sensors

Information Innovation Office (I2O) I2O explores game-changing technologies in the fields of information science and software to anticipate and create rapid shifts in the complex national security landscape. Conflict can occur in traditional domains such as land, sea, air, and space, and in emerging domains such as cyber and other types of irregular warfare. I2O’s research portfolio is focused on anticipating new modes of warfare in these emerging areas and developing the concepts and tools necessary to provide decisive advantage for the U.S. and its allies.

Focus Areas: Algorithms | Cyber | Data | ISR | Networking | Processing | Programming

Microsystems Technology Office (MTO) Since its inception in 1992, DARPA’S Microsystems Technology Office (MTO) has helped create and prevent strategic surprise through investments in compact microelectronic components such as microprocessors, Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), and photonic devices. MTO’s revolutionary work applying advanced capabilities in areas such as wide-band gap materials, phased array radars, high-energy lasers and infrared imaging have helped the United States establish and maintain technological superiority for more than two decades.

Focus Areas: Decentralization | Electronics | EW | Globalization | Microsystems | Mobile |Photonics | PNT | Spectrum

Strategic Technology Office (STO) DARPA’s Strategic Technology Office (STO) is focused on technologies that enable fighting as a network to increase military effectiveness, cost leverage, and adaptability.

Focus Areas: Air | Communications | Countermeasures | EW |ISR | Mobile | Spectrum | Tech – Foundations

Tactical Technology Office (TTO)​ The mission of DARPA/TTO is to provide or prevent strategic and tactical surprise with very high-payoff, high-risk development and demonstration of revolutionary new platforms in Ground Systems, Maritime (Surface and Undersea) Systems, Air Systems, and Space Systems.

Focus Areas: Air | Ground | ISR | Maritime | Munitions | Robotics | Space