Does DARPA Still Effectively Spur U.S. Technological Innovation?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008 - 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM
Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
1250 Eye Street, NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC, DC 20005

ITIF will be hosting a breakfast forum on Tuesday, October 14th with Dr. Erica Fuchs, Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. Fuchs will discuss the results of a new study examining the role of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) between 1992 and the present on innovation in the United States.

In recent years, there has been rising concern over the ability of the United States to remain competitive in the global economy. In particular, the shift of the U.S. innovation system away from vertically integrated firms with large R&D labs, toward networked firms with interdependent technologies has created new challenges for cross-firm coordination and long-term innovation. These challenges raise important questions on the appropriate and most successful roles for federal programs within this framework.

To shed insights into these questions, Dr. Fuchs unpacks the processes by which DARPA traditionally had great success in influencing technology development, and assesses the implications of recent changes in DARPA for its effectiveness within the new innovation ecosystem. Dr. Fuchs’ study focuses on DARPA’s Microsystems Technology office, and its role in technology development in photonics, microelectronics, and other technologies supporting Moore’s Law. Drawing on in-depth field interviews of DARPA program managers, as well as additional interviews of technologists within the five established computing firms, start-ups, universities and government institutions, Dr. Fuchs provides fresh insights into the role of DARPA, how that role can be improved, and what the implications are for federal innovation policy.


Read Dr. Fuchs' paper.

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Erica Fuchs
Carnegie Mellon University