Defense Innovation Unit
The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) is a United States Department of Defense (DoD) organization founded to help the U.S. military make faster use of emerging commercial technologies. Launched in 2015, the organization has been called "the Pentagon's Innovation Experiment". DIU is staffed by civilian and both active duty and reserve military personnel. The organization is headquartered in Mountain View, California — Silicon Valley — with offices in Boston, Austin, and the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C.
DIU was launched in August 2015 as "Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx)", with Dr. George Duchak named as its first director.
In May 2016, then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced a reboot of the organization, designating that it report directly to his office.
From May 2016 to February 2018, its managing partner was Raj Shah, a Wharton MBA graduate who flew F-16s in Iraq as an Air National Guard reservist and co-founded Morta Security, later acquired by Palo Alto Networks. Other leaders include Isaac Taylor, Chris Kirchhoff, and Vishaal Hariprasad. Taylor spent 13 years at Google, designing and building its first self-driving cars, then later rising to operations director of Google X where he started projects involving robotics and augmented reality. Kirchhoff served as a strategist in President Obama’s National Security Council and as the civilian assistant to General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Hariprasad is a highly decorated Air Force cyberwarfare officer who cofounded Morta Security with Raj Shah.
In August 2017, during a period in which Captain Sean Heritage, USN, was the interim Director, Deputy Secretary of Defense directed DIUx be re-designated as the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) to indicate the organization's permanence within the Department of Defense.
DIU provides non-dilutive capital in exchange for commercial products that solve national defense problems. Portfolio companies include Tanium, Improbable, Saildrone, Shield AI, Qadium, Bromium, Quid, Sonitus Technologies, Halo Neuroscience, Orbital Insight, Yubico, Polyverse, and Lastwall. DIUx portfolio companies are backed by Andreessen Horowitz, Social Capital, Lux Capital, In-Q-Tel, Founders Fund, and New Enterprise Associates.
- "The Pentagon's Innovation Experiment". technologyreview.com. 2016-12-19. Retrieved 2017-05-16.
- Rao, Leena (2014-01-06). "Palo Alto Networks Buys Cyber Security Startup Founded By Former NSA Engineers, Morta". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2017-05-16.