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Sunday, March 26th, 2023

DARPA launches BRIDGES pilot program to expand pool of small companies for classified defense projects


The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) announced that, through DARPA, it will be launching the Bringing Classified Innovation to Defense and Government Systems (BRIDGES) program, which seeks to use corporate innovation from companies that do not typically get to work on DoD classified projects.

“There’s a large U.S. innovation talent base at small companies across our country that we currently aren’t able to tap into for solutions to classified technology challenges,” Greg Kuperman, the DARPA program manager for BRIDGES, said. “This program aims to create bridges to those small businesses and entrepreneurs whose creative ideas and technical expertise could help us create and prevent strategic national surprise on classified projects.”

By expanding those involved in classified research and development efforts, BRIDGES will seek new solutions to challenging problems with fresh blood. BRIDGES will solicit companies for a government-sponsored consortium focused on specific topic areas of interest, with DARPA sponsoring consortium members for a facility clearance. These clearances would allow members to interact with government personnel at classified levels up to Top Secret, Sensitive Compartmented Information, and Special Access Programs.

Members will be granted access to classified work areas and networks at specified locations where they can undertake classified work. The hope for them is to demonstrate value to the government for classified programs and to emerge from the consortium with a contract for a specific classified program.

The BRIDGES pilot program will last 30 months and offer up to $50,000 per 12-month period for companies brought into the consortium.

“DARPA will periodically release new topic areas for the BRIDGES consortium to focus on,” Kuperman said. “If you and your company are interested in participating, we encourage you to submit a few pages explaining why your company is capable of innovating in that topic area. The main idea here is to convince us that we should sponsor you for a clearance so that you can help solve challenging classified problems.”