DARPA moves forward with commercial accelerators

On March 27, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) posted a synopsis of its commercial accelerators program for information and planning purposes and to allow industry the opportunity to submit questions, as well as promote competition.

Since 1958, DARPA has held to a singular and enduring mission: To make pivotal investments in breakthrough technologies for national security. Ensuring that the technology developed under DARPA programs make a lasting positive impact requires technology transition to the Department of Defense (DoD), the U.S. Government, Allied Partners, and the commercial sector.

The mission of DARPA’s Commercial Strategy is to accelerate DARPA’s R&D technology into future products, services, and capabilities for both the DoD and commercial markets, thus providing rapid transition program opportunities by:

  • Tapping into top tier commercial and entrepreneurial talent.
  • Leveraging existing regional business and economic development ecosystems with domain expertise of relevance to both DoD and commercial customers.
  • Connecting DARPA-funded teams with non-adversarial private investment capital and U.S. corporations.
  • Providing additional training, mentoring, coaching, techno-economic market mapping, financial analysis, deal sourcing, and early-stage company building (pre-seed).
  • Leveraging unique regional capabilities, including universities, labs, and demonstration sites.
  • Developing strategies and approaches to de-risk the highest market inefficiencies that prevent DARPA-funded technologies from transitioning.
  • Ensuring DARPA technology that secures economic and national security is available in the future, with zero adversarial capital.
  • Addressing and de-risking the highest market inefficiencies that prevent DARPA-funded technologies from transitioning.


Commercial Strategy intends to achieve these goals by conducting the foundational entrepreneurial research required to design technologies of relevance and value to the market, formulate strong go-to-market strategies, and increase the likelihood that DARPA performers secure U.S. investment, grow domestically, and provide new capabilities for national defense.

DARPA’s objective is to have approximately four to six qualified Commercial Accelerator providers to advise and assist DARPA’s Commercial Strategy team. Multiple providers will ensure the best fit for each performer, foster competition, and infuse business development capability.  Each Accelerator will provide senior commercial advisors, with technological and industry proficiency to conduct ongoing, iterative assessments of the technical solutions’ commercial viability and go-to-market strategies, identification of entrepreneurial talent, connections to customers, and private investment capital.

The anticipated acquisition strategy, which is subject to change, is to establish multiple-award Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) with a period of performance of three (3) years.  The anticipated aggregate ceiling amount is $25 million.

DARPA intends to award BPAs to Commercial Accelerators that, together, they will provide the best coverage across DoD’s critical technology areas as well as diverse coverage of startup ecosystems.  Any one accelerator is not expected to specialize in all the technology areas nor are they expected to have a presence in multiple startup ecosystems.

Review the DARPA commercial accelerators synopsis.

Source: SAM

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