BOSTON – Today Secretary of Defense Ash Carter formally opened the Boston location of Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental, or DIUx, the department’s ground-breaking effort to strengthen connections to the American innovation economy and speed technologies into the hands of the warfighter. He was joined at the event by state and local officials, as well technology leaders from the Boston area.
In May, Secretary Carter announced that the department would establish an East Coast office for DIUx, complementing the Silicon Valley office that opened in 2015, along with structural and management changes, dubbed “DIUx 2.0,” to accelerate DIUx success in building bridges to entrepreneurs and innovators. The Boston location, the Secretary said, would provide important access to a core of innovative companies, universities and other private institutions in the region, while enhancing its outreach to companies located throughout the country.
“This city is home to a tremendous legacy of service – one that will continue in a new way with DIUx,” Secretary Carter said. “It’s a testament to the fact that Boston has always been a place where great minds and great ideas come together to help advance the safety and security of our country. And that’s what we do every day in the Department of Defense.”
At the event, Secretary Carter also introduced two new members of the DIUx leadership team: Chief Science Officer Bernadette Johnson, the former chief technology officer at MIT Lincoln Laboratories; and Boston military lead Col. Mike McGinley, a lawyer specializing in cybersecurity issues who serves as an Air Force Reserve cyberwarrior. From Boston, Johnson and McGinley will work with the California-based partners announced in May to lead DIUx efforts across the country. The Secretary also announced that DIUx is exploring ways to bring together leading minds in the military and DoD who work on biodefense and biological technology together with world-class academic researchers, biotech companies, and entrepreneurs such as Broad Institute Founding Director Eric Lander who attended today’s announcement.
In addition to opening the new Boston location, Secretary Carter detailed new DIUx practices that are already enhancing the department’s ties to the technology community. DIUx is now employing an innovation engagement mechanism called a Commercial Solutions Opening to take advantage of flexible new authorities for prototyping granted by Congress. The CSO allows tech firms to bring ideas to DOD in the same way they would to other buyers of commercial technology, streamlining paperwork requirements and allowing the department to provide funding in less than 60 days after first contact with a firm and within 30 days after receiving a formal proposal.
The Secretary also announced that DIUx will now be organized into three teams: a Venture Team, which will identify emerging commercial technologies and explore their potential impact on the battlefield; a Foundry Team, which will identify technologies that aren’t yet fully developed or require significant adaptation for military applications; and an Engagement Team, which will introduce innovators to military problems and the military to entrepreneurs who can help find solutions.
“Over the last 11 months – since we first opened the doors of the West Coast office in Silicon Valley – DIUx has become a signature part of our outreach to the tech community. It’s helped us connect with hundreds of entrepreneurs and firms – making great progress in putting commercially-based innovation into the hands of America’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines,” Secretary Carter said.
Since the new leadership team took over in May under Managing Director Raj Shah, DIUx has begun work on 15 separate projects. The first contract to be awarded took only 31 days – and additional projects are expected be on contract in the coming weeks, covering diverse technology areas ranging from secure network mapping to autonomous seafaring drones. Seven of these new problem sets were just posted in the last two weeks, to develop prototype projects on endpoint inspection, high-speed drones, and multifactor authentication, among others.
“I am proud to announce that in its first 75 days the new DIUx has made tremendous progress in rebuilding bridges to the technology community,” Shah said. “We’ve demonstrated that the DoD can be just as nimble and innovative as the companies we want to do business with. I’m confident America’s warfighters will benefit as a result.”
Release No: NR-278-16
July 26, 2016