The head of the Defense Department’s newly formed Silicon Valley outpost is increasingly looking inside DoD for sources of funding, according to the Pentagon’s acquisition executive.
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L) Frank Kendall said Tuesday the job of George Duchak, the head of Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental (DIUx), and his staffers is to marry funding sources with DoD and technology sources from non-traditional sources. These DoD-internal funding sources, Kendall said, include the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA); the science and technology (S&T) community among the Army, Navy and Air Force; program executive officers (PEO) and their programs; and DoD’s laboratory programs.
“It is a question of where the technology can be embedded to the benefit of DoD and what the military application is,” Kendall said at a Defense One event in Arlington, Va.
Kendall said a few interesting types of technology include energy, materials technology and information technology (IT), especially involving common handheld devices “everyone owns.” Kendall mentioned applications and, specifically, translation apps and big data apps.
Kendall called Duchak a “very busy guy” that has been meeting with small businesses, venture capitalists and some of the bigger firms in Silicon Valley. DIUx is a major DoD initiative to facilitate more engagement with innovative businesses and startups located in the tech hub (Defense Daily, Aug. 25).
Kendall said he has high hopes for DIUx and wished the public would be “a little patient” with the unit, which was formed in April. Kendall said it will take a “little while” for DIUx to get established and running.
“As it matures and as people see the value of the connections they can make, I think a lot of good things are going to happen,” Kendall said.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced in August DoD was investing $75 million over five years to develop flexible hybrid electronics that could yield increasingly advanced wearable devices, improved health monitoring systems or better sensors. The initiative pulls together a consortium of 162 companies, universities and non-profit organizations, which will bring $90 million of their own funds to the table.
The Manufacturing Innovation Institute (MII) for Flexible Hybrid Electronics in San Jose, Calif., will be led by the FlexTech Alliance, a research and trade association. Other high profile defense contractors and commercial companies such as Lockheed Martin [LMT], Xerox [XRX] and Apple [AAPL] have signed on, as have major universities like Stanford and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Air Force Research Laboratory will manage the cooperative agreement (Defense Daily, Aug. 28).