DARPA-Like Agencies to Be Established in Europe

DARPA-like agencies in Europe
150606-N-PO203-239 POMONA, California (June 6, 2015) Dr. Tom McKenna, left, a program officer at the Office of Naval Research (ONR), talks with Dr. Brian Latimer, associate professor at Virginia Tech, about ESCHER, short for Electric Series Compliant Humanoid for Emergency Response, during the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Robotics Challenge (DRC) in Pomona, California. Designed, fabricated and assembled by engineering students at Virginia Tech, ESCHER leverages software and design learnings from another project underway at the lab, the ONR-sponsored Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot, or SAFFIR. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)

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The development of new systems by military organizations has been based more and more on civilian disruptive technologies. European states are establishing their own versions of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), operative since 1958. DARPA has since teamed with universities, corporations and government partners to fund research programs to improve America’s defense capabilities. Technologies it has worked on have also fed back into civilian applications, notably the internet, voice recognition and small GPS receivers.

Following the American model, a new agency that is about to be established in Italy would stimulate and coordinate the development of civil technologies for military application. This will be based on a new law proposal. “Thanks to the DARPA system, avangard civilian technologies are considered to have strategic value. This in turn has a cascade effect on the economy and on innovation in the U.S.,” according to the Italian bill.

The bill calls for the new Italian agency, the Joint Center for Innovation and Strategic Technologies, known by its Italian acronym CINTES, to be based near Pisa at an existing military research facility. The joint center will now be discussed in the Senate’s Defence Committee, where representatives from the military, academia and industry will be invited to give their opinions.

According to defensenews.com, the bill stressed that Italy must quickly set up its own version of DARPA to keep up with France and Germany, who are already ahead in launching such an agency. France’s Innovation Défense Lab is now “allowing France’s DGA procurement agency to map out and evaluate civilian technologies and acquire those which are of interest to the defense sector.”

Germany’s planned ADIC cyberdefense agency is cited in the bill as an example of the government investigating “disruptive” technologies in cybernetics and other key technologies.