CHARLOTTE – DARPA, the military research agency behind more than six decades of technological breakthroughs, is holding an all-day regional event in Greensboro in two weeks. It is a big opportunity for companies and academic researchers in our state’s defense innovation community who need funding help.

DARPA is the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and it oversees some 250 research and development programs  It has been around since 1958, created after the Soviets launched Sputnik. The narrative was that we were losing the space race, and our military was falling behind our chief adversary. Today, our chief adversary is China, and the narrative, again, is that we are in a technology race that will determine the balance of geopolitical power.

For 65 years, DARPA has been identifying and funding breakthrough innovations with military applications, and the research has transformed our economy. You are reading this online because DARPA led the work that created what became the Internet. With around 220 employees and a $4+ billion annual budget, DARPA is looking for revolutionary – not evolutionary – technology to get from labs to the warfighters.

That is not easy. There are a lot of folks working on cutting-edge research in industry and academia. Sometimes they are working on very outside-the-box stuff that can change everything, but they can’t get funded. Fifty years ago it was semiconductor research that would lead to GPS technology and precision bombs. In the ‘80s, it was drone research. DARPA has to  let researchers know what it is interested in.

That is why around 15 high-ranking DARPA officials, program officers and other specialists are coming to Greensboro Sept. 19.

Read more about the event here.