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


William Boone Bonvillian; Richard Van Atta; Patrick Windham

Published On





  • English

Print Length

508 pages (xx+488)


Paperback156 x 26 x 234 mm(6.14" x 1.03" x 9.21")
Hardback156 x 29 x 234 mm(6.14" x 1.13" x 9.21")


Paperback1562g (55.10oz)
Hardback1958g (69.07oz)



OCLC Number





  • KCP
  • JP
  • JPP
  • TBX


  • TEC025000
  • TEC056000
  • POL063000


  • U394.A75


  • U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
  • transformative technologies
  • U.S. Government
  • DARPA model
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The DARPA Model for Transformative Technologies

Perspectives on the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

  • William Boone Bonvillian (editor)
  • Richard Van Atta (editor)
  • Patrick Windham (editor)
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 remarkable collection of 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. Informative and insightful, this guide is essential reading for political and policy leaders, as well as researchers and students interested in understanding the success of this agency and the lessons it offers to others.


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

Additional Resources

[website]A new UK research funding agency

Witness(es): William Bonvillian, Lecturer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Dr Peter Highnam, Deputy Director, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Witness(es): Dr Antoine Petit, Chairman and CEO, French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS); Dr Regina Dugan, Chief Executive Officer, Wellcome Leap.


1. Introduction: DARPA—The Innovation Icon

(pp. 1–26)
  • Richard Van Atta
  • Patrick Windham

2. Fifty Years of Innovation and Discovery

(pp. 29–44)
  • Richard Van Atta
  • Patrick Windham

3. NSF and DARPA as Models for Research Funding: An Institutional Analysis

(pp. 45–76)
  • Michael J. Piore
  • Phech Colatat
  • Elisabeth Beck Reynolds

4. The Connected Science Model for Innovation—The DARPA Model

(pp. 77–118)
  • William Boone Bonvillian

5. The Value of Vision in Radical Technological Innovation

(pp. 119–144)
  • Tamara L. Carleton

6. ARPA Does Windows: The Defense Underpinning of the PC Revolution

(pp. 145–178)
  • Glenn R. Fong

7. Rethinking the Role of the State in Technology Development: DARPA and the Case for Embedded Network Governance

(pp. 179–228)
  • Glenn R. Fong

8. DARPA’s Process for Creating New Programs

(pp. 229–288)
  • David W. Cheney
  • Richard Van Atta

9. Some Questions about the DARPA Model

(pp. 289–300)
  • Patrick Windham

10. DARPA—Enabling Technical Innovation

(pp. 303–314)
  • Jinendra Ranka

11. Program Management at DARPA: A Personal Perspective

(pp. 315–320)
  • Larry Jackel

12. Lessons from DARPA for Innovating in Defense Legacy Sectors

(pp. 323–360)
  • William Boone Bonvillian

13. ARPA-E and DARPA: Applying the DARPA Model to Energy Innovation

(pp. 361–434)
  • William Boone Bonvillian
  • Richard Van Atta

14. IARPA: A Modified DARPA Innovation Model

(pp. 435–452)
  • William Boone Bonvillian

15. Does NIH need a DARPA?

(pp. 453–460)
  • Robert Cook-Deegan

16. Lessons from DARPA’s Experience

(pp. 463–470)
  • Richard Van Atta
  • Patrick Windham
  • William Boone Bonvillian


William Boone Bonvillian

Senior Director at MIT’s Office of Digital Learning at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Richard Van Atta


Patrick Windham

Lecturer in the Public Policy Program at Stanford University