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The DARPA Model for Transformative Technologies - Perspectives on the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

Edited by William B. Bonvillian, Richard Van Atta, and Patrick Windham 

Open Book Publishers - 2020


"The authors have done a masterful job of charting the important story of DARPA, one of the key catalysts of technological innovation in US recent history. By plotting the development, achievements and structure of the leading world agency of this kind, this book stimulates new thinking in the field of technological innovation with bearing on how to respond to climate change, pandemics, cyber security and other global problems of our time. The DARPA Model provides a useful guide for governmental agency and policy leaders, and for anybody interested in the role of governments in technological innovation." 

—Dr. Kent Hughes, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

"This volume contains a remarkable collection of extremely insightful articles on the world’s most successful advanced technology agency. Drafted by the leading US experts on DARPA, it provides a variety of perspectives that in turn benefit from being presented together in a comprehensive volume. It reviews DARPA’s unique role in the U.S. innovation system, as well as the challenges DARPA and its clones face today. As the American model is being considered for adoption by a number of countries worldwide, this book makes a welcome and timely contribution to the policy dialogue on the role played by governments in stimulating technological innovation."

— Prof. Charles Wessner, Georgetown University


The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has played a remarkable role in the creation new transformative technologies, revolutionizing defense with drones and precision-guided munitions, and transforming civilian life with portable GPS receivers, voice-recognition software, self-driving cars, unmanned aerial vehicles, and, most famously, the ARPANET and its successor, the Internet. 

Other parts of the U.S. Government and some foreign governments have tried to apply the ‘DARPA model’ to help develop valuable new technologies. But how and why has DARPA succeeded? Which features of its operation and environment contribute to this success? And what lessons does its experience offer for other U.S. agencies and other governments that want to develop and demonstrate their own ‘transformative technologies’? 

This book is a collection of the leading academic research on DARPA from a wide range of perspectives, combining to chart an important story from the Agency’s founding in the wake of Sputnik, to the current attempts to adapt it to use by other federal agencies, including at ARPA-E and IARPA. This book is an essential guide for political and policy leaders, as well as for researchers and students interested in understanding the success of this technology agency and the lessons it offers. 

This book is published on an "open access" basis with downloadable PDF and HTML versions available from Open Book Publishers (Cambridge, UK) at no charge, and paperback and hardback versions available for a charge, through the publisher's site  -

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