Erica Fuchs Speaks On DARPA’s Innovation

Erica FuchsErica Fuchs, assistant professor in Carnegie Mellon’s Department of Engineering and Public Policy and Principal Investigator with Carnegie Mellon|Portugal’s joint EPP doctoral program, will speak on October 14 at the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation breakfast forum in Washington, D.C. about the results of a new study examining the role of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) between 1992 and the present on innovation in the United States. The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation is a non-profit think tank focusing on innovation, productivity and digital economic issues.

Erica FuchsThe Information Technology & Innovation Foundation is a non-profit think tank focusing on innovation, productivity and digital economic issues. Fuchs is an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon and is a Principal Investigator with Carnegie Mellon|Portugal’s joint EPP doctoral program.

In recent years, there has been rising concern over the ability of the United States to remain competitive in a global economy. In particular, the shift of the U.S. innovation system away from vertically integrated firms with large R&D labs, toward firms with interdependent technologies has created new challenges for cross-firm coordination and long-term innovation. These challenges raise important questions on the appropriate and most successful roles for federal programs within this framework.

To shed insights into these questions, Fuchs unpacks the processes by which DARPA traditionally had great success in influencing technology development, and assesses the implications of recent changes in the agency for its effectiveness within a new innovation ecosystem. Her study focuses on DARPA’s Microsystems Technology Office, and its role in technology development of photonics, microelectronics and other technologies supporting Moore’s Law.

Drawing on in-depth field interviews of DARPA program managers, as well as additional interviews of technologists within the five established computing firms, start-ups, universities and government institutions, Fuchs provides fresh insights into the role of DARPA, how that role can be improved, and what implications are for federal innovation policy.