New DIU head sseeks to scale up DOD, Silicon Valley tech partnerships – DNyuz

New DIU head sseeks to scale up DOD, Silicon Valley tech partnerships

If the U.S. military is to convince more tech firms to work on defense projects, it must move faster to turn good ideas into lucrative programs, says the new chief of the Pentagon’s outreach arm to Silicon Valley.

Doug Beck, who comes to the job after serving as a vice president at Apple, told reporters on Thursday that the Defense Department is learning from the Ukraine conflict, where a small but nimble state is fighting a much larger, better armed opponent. Beck said that the Ukrainians tactical use of dual-purpose or consumer technologies, such as small hobby drones and commercial satellite imagery, shows how ideas can be scaled-up to defeat or deter a major power.

“Now we must use the technology that was developed to achieve a strategic goal. This means that we will focus on its speed and size to prevent major conflicts or to win them if they are inevitable. “This is the next phase for DIU,” said he.

It’s one reason why the Defense Secretary elevated the DIU office in April, so that the DIU director now reports directly to the secretary. It’s one of many steps that the Department has taken to show faith and confidence in DIU since former Defense Secretary Ash Carter established the office in 2015. But, said Beck, unlike the Ukrainians, the Defense Department is still struggling not only to acquire new technology but to make sure that it can acquire and then actually use new solutions across larger portions of the military. Taking a new technology or service and rapidly expanding the number of people that can use it is often referred to as scaling in the business world. He says the Defense Department is still struggling in this area.

“That scale is not fully there,” he said of DOD’s acquisition of tech from startups and other non-traditional defense contractors. If you look at the amount of money that went into commercial providers for some of the technologies which are making such a difference on the battlefield [in Ukraine],, it is comparatively small compared with direct foreign military aid and weapons like rockets and howitzers.

Beck’s argument was borne out by a Monday report from government data analysis company Govini, which showed that even in areas of emerging and information technology– areas largely dominated by consumer facing tech companies–traditional defense contractors were continuing to win most of the contract awards. This is in no small part because they were more adept at negotiating the bureaucracy and buying process of the Pentagon.

Beck said Silicon Valley Venture Funds and other commercial investors would more willingly invest their money in technologies the Defense Department can use, if they were clearer on what types of dual-use or commercial technologies are relevant for the military. They could also better predict which ones would likely be adopted sooner.

“If we are able to provide more focus so that it’s clear which of those many things from the private sector…are actually strategic and critically relevant,” he said, “ultimately it’d be great if we could do a better job of making things a lot less bumpy on the path to scale…Effectively, then, I think, will unlock an enormous amount of capital that will help all of us to solve our problems.”

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