DARPA Seeks New Antenna Designs From Nontraditional Defense Contractors

(Image: DARPA)

DARPA is soliciting disruptive ideas from small businesses and nontraditional defense contractors for novel antenna designs, materials, manufacturing, or processing as the first topic issued under the agency’s Bringing Classified Innovation to Defense and Government Systems (BRIDGES) initiative. The antenna topic area aims to explore new designs that would offer significantly increased performance or substantial reduction in size, weight, power, and cost (SWaP-C) compared to current state of the art.

The BRIDGES effort aims to connect innovation from small companies that traditionally do not work with the U.S. government to classified Department of Defense research and development efforts. Specifically, the goal is to connect innovators directly to the challenging problems that exist in the classified realm and to help develop solutions to those problems. BRIDGES aims to provide companies that demonstrate they can provide innovation and value to the DOD the means to obtain a facility clearance and interact directly with DOD customers at classified levels. DARPA plans to solicit responses to multiple technical topics under BRIDGES, introduced periodically.

“If your company is working on cutting-edge antenna designs for commercial applications and you’ve never considered or known how to apply your expertise to help solve Defense Department challenges, we want to hear from you,” said Greg Kuperman, program manager in DARPA’s Strategic Technology Office. “In the defense space, we’re at least 10 years behind state of the art in antennas. There’s a gold mine of untapped technical capability and potentially revolutionary concepts in small and large commercial companies across our country that could provide solutions to national security needs. We want to hear the best ideas related to active and passive sensing across RF (radio frequency), acoustic, and electro-optic/infrared spectral bands applied in every physical domain – air, space, sea, and land. The proposal process is very simple: Send us a four-page or shorter proposal of your antenna concept. If we find your proposal intriguing and of potential value to DoD, we may sponsor you through the BRIDGES consortium to receive a facility clearance so we can start to have classified discussions with you.”

Under the new initiative, selected companies will join a BRIDGES consortium created by DARPA where they will be sponsored for a facility clearance and provided access to classified work areas and networks where they can perform classified work. During quarterly in-person meetings, members of the consortium will interact with government personnel at classified levels up to TS/SCI/SAP.

The deadline for an initial round of evaluations on submitted proposals is set for May 31, 2023. DARPA has set a final deadline of April 12, 2024. Proposals submitted after the May 2023 deadline will be evaluated on a rolling basis until the final deadline.