Funding Agency:
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

The Defense Sciences Office (DSO) at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is soliciting innovative research proposals to develop capabilities for field-deployable, on demand production of a range of nutritious, palatable foodstuffs from engineered microbes, air, water, and electricity. Proposed research will investigate innovative approaches and drive revolutionary advances in science, devices, and/or systems to enable production of nutrition on demand, at the point of consumption within parameters associated with two DARPA-defined use cases. Specifically excluded is research that primarily results in evolutionary improvements to the existing state of practice.

Cornucopia seeks to leverage breakthroughs from academia and industry to produce desirable flavors from processed microbial biomass containing human dietary macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate, fat, dietary fiber) in multiple food formats (e.g., shake, gel, bar, jerky). Cornucopia will enable future microbial food production systems that meet food quality, safety, and palatability needs, while critically ensuring the absence of food- and water-borne pathogens and minimizing overall production footprint as indicated by the two program use cases.

Proposals should present integrated, multi-disciplinary teams to pursue concepts that meet all program metrics derived from the two program use cases. Teams are required to address both use cases, emphasizing solutions that generalize where possible but focusing where necessary to achieve specific use case targets. The system must be robust enough to be operated and maintained for the duration of each test period by a trained warfighter. The end-to-end system for the small unit system, to include bioreactors, or other large equipment, should meet the size, weight, and power (SWaP) constraints of a High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (a.k.a., Humvee) payload at no more than 4400 lb. total weight excluding a generator up to 10 kW, fuel and water. For the HADR use case, the end-to-end system including all equipment (i.e., including generator) but excluding water and fuel must be deployable in no more than four Quadcon containers.


o Abstract Due Date: December 20, 2021, 4:00 p.m.

o Full Proposal Due Date: February 7, 2022, 4:00 p.m.

Agency Website

Areas of Interest

Cornucopia is a 48-month program, comprising three concurrent research focus areas (FAs) that integrated teams will pursue through three phases. Each phase is associated with a set of program metrics detailed in Table 1 that guide the rate of technology development. Proposals must address both use cases in all three FAs through all three phases. This structure will guide performer effort toward achieving interim and final program goals that assure levels of performance necessary to meet military use cases. Proposals must include consideration of risks in their technical approaches and strategies for risk mitigation.

  • FA1: Domestication of Microbes for Human Consumption
  • FA2: Tailorability of Microbial-Origin Food
  • FA3: Integrated System Demonstrations for Military Use Cases

Funding Type





Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences

External Deadline

February 7, 2022