December 14 2021
Research & Development

As Congress Eyes New ARPA, Capital Region Has $170M+ in Advanced Research Projects

As Congress debates whether to pursue a new federal agency dedicated to cutting-edge R&D “to transform health and medicine,” the Capital Region’s economy is already being boosted by other federal Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) initiatives for defense and energy applications.

In fact, in 2021 Capital Region firms were working on 21 multi-year federal contracts totaling $179.1 million that were awarded and/or funded or funded by the Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).1


Last April, the Biden administration requested $6.5 billion for the creation of a Advanced Research Projects Agency-Health (ARPA-H). This agency, modelled after DARPA and ARPA-E, would be formed under the National Institutes of Health and would have a singular purpose: “to develop breakthroughs to prevent, detect, and treat diseases like Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and cancer.” Since then the House and Senate have proposed funding ARPA-H up to $3 billion or $2.4 billion, respectively, and a stand-alone measure for a $3 billion agency has recently been introduced in the House.


The first ARPA was created in 1958 in response to Russia’s launch of Sputnik. That agency was renamed DARPA in 1972, and ARPA-E was created in 2009.

In the Capital Region this year, there were eight ARPA-E projects underway this year with a total value of $18.4 million. There were also eight DARPA-awarded projects active in 2021 totaling $72.7 million, plus an additional five contracts totaling $87.9 million that were awarded by the Department of Defense but funded by DARPA.

The majority of DARPA and ARPA-E grants were awarded to GE Research in Niskayuna, Kitware in Clifton Park, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy and SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Albany. However, several local small businesses have received awards from or funded by DARPA in recent years, including Ecovative Design in Green Island, ($9,395,538), Lux Semiconductors in Albany ( $74,939), Step Tools in Troy ($1,456,571) and Free Form Fibers in Saratoga Springs ($599,941).  


With Capital Region firms receiving $81.5 million in NIH awards in fiscal year 2020, the creation of ARPA-H could push that total higher due to several local firms’ expertise in advanced R&D. Below are contracts awarded and/or funded by ARPA-E and DARPA that were active this year in the Capital Region:


GE Research ($5,412,810): AI-Enabled Predictive Maintenance Digital Twins for Advanced Nuclear Reactors

GE Research ($717,656): Flexible Oxy-Fuel Combustion for High-Penetration Variable Renewables

NoMIS Power Group ($498,297): 6.5 kV, 100 A SiC Power Module Technology to Meet 21st Century Energy Demands

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute ($2,445,327): Hydroxide Ion Exchange Polymers

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute ($2,373,546): Reflected Light Field Sensing for Occupancy Detection

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute ($2,664,000): Risk segmentation and Portfolio Analysis for Pareto Dominance in High Renewable Penetration and Storage Reserves

SUNY Research Foundation/SUNY Polytechnic Institute ($1,280,000): PN-Junctions by Ion Implantation

SUNY Polytechnic Institute ($3,053,459): SMART SiC Power ICs (Scalable, Manufacturable, and Robust Technology for SiC Power Integrated Circuits)


Ecovative Design ($9,395,538): Engineered Living Materials (ELM) Program

GE Research ($7,545,438): High Enthalpy Aperture Technology (HEAT)

GE Research ($14,313,301): Atmospheric Water Extraction (AWE)

GE Research ($3,341,648): Electrical Prescriptions (ELECTRX) Program: Direct Ultrasound Neuromodulation

GE Research ($49,015): Gamifying the Search for Scientific Surprise

GE Research ($41,219,761): Rapid Universal Nucleic Acids Using Fieldable Automated Synthesis Technology

GE Research ($10,431,151): Rapid Assurance Curation Kit (RACK)

GE Research ($10,394,001): Materials Architectures and Characterization for Hyper sonics (MACH)

GE Research ($18,732,316): Measuring Biological Aptitude (MBA)

GE Research ($7,131,050): Verification Evidence and Resilient Design in Anticipation of Cybersecurity Threats (VERDICT)

Kitware ($11,947,912): Semantic Forensics (SEMAFOR)

Kitware ($6,899,968): Science of Artificial Intelligence and Learning for Open-World Novelty (SAIL-ON)

SUNY Research Foundation/SUNY Polytechnic Institute ($19,215,339): Lasers for Universal Microscale Optical Systems (LUMOS)



1 Total does not include classified contracts.

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