The Pentagon is exploring a new consortium model for venture capital (VC) firms that would look to improve the ability of those companies to make targeted investments in specific technology areas of interest, a top department acquisition official said Thursday

Kevin Fahey, the assistant secretary of defense for acquisition, told attendees at a Defense One

event DoD is working to bring in more innovative ideas from non-traditional partners in a similar manner to the intelligence community’s (IC) use of the In-Q-Tel model.

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition Kevin Fahey

“As the Department of Defense, we can’t do matchmaking. What we can do is create the environment, these are the technologies we’re interested in and this is the venture capital that can work with that,” Fahey said. “People are still concerned about the barriers on how do you get in the Department of Defense, and that’s what we’re trying to break down.”

Fahey said the need to better signal the department’s technology areas of interest is a particular goal for Ellen Lord, the Pentagon’s top acquisition official, after she’s been approached by VC firms claiming a lack of insight into investment priorities.

The new process may look similar to the IC’s In-Q-Tel non-profit service, while differing slightly by acting as a way to connect VC firms with companies rather than making direct investments, according to Fahey. 

“Think of it in those terms, in a way. The difference is we’re not going to pick venture capital ‘x’ to go with company ‘y.’ We’re basically going to build the environment that venture capital companies will know the technologies that we’re interested in, that we know are valuable to the United States military,” Fahey said.