Home News Scaling Technology: Defense Innovation Unit Nears the Next Phase Amidst ‘Tipping Point

Scaling Technology: Defense Innovation Unit Nears the Next Phase Amidst ‘Tipping Point

Scaling Technology: Defense Innovation Unit Nears the Next Phase Amidst ‘Tipping Point
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The Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) is at a “tipping point” and is heading into its next phase, which leader Doug Beck says means focusing less on proving new tech and more on scaling it for broad military use.

Beck, who was picked to lead DIU in April, told reporters Thursday he wants to build off of the relationships his predecessors built between the Defense Department and Silicon Valley, but move beyond the early stages of tech adoption.

DIU now has “to take that capability that has been built and employ it for strategic effect, which means leverage it with the focus, speed and scale to help us to deter major conflict or win [it] if we are forced to fight,” Beck, formerly a vice president at Apple where he co-led the worldwide business development and sales functions, said. “And that is what the next phase of DIU has to be about.”

Being able to deliver on a large scale will require DIU shifting to a model that begins from the demand signal from combatant commands, the joint staff and partners in the office of the secretary of defense, he added.

“I’m very optimistic that we are truly at a tipping point for change, which is what we’re focused on capitalizing on right now,” Beck said.

In April, DoD announced that Beck would report directly up to the secretary of defense in an organizational reshuffle, a move also backed by lawmakers in the fiscal 2024 defense budget. Historically, the DIU director reported to the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering.

As part of his new role, Beck has been tasked with providing an assessment to the secretary of defense by September this year regarding DIU’s capabilities, an action plan and what milestones.

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“So it’s all about how do we really elucidate the way that we’re going to get after meeting this challenge through focus, speed and scale,” Beck said of the report today. “It’s about what is this next phase of DIU and the role that DIU can play in helping to catalyze the community of innovation across the department and how do we leverage that in order to deliver that strategic impact that we require. as defined as ensuring that we can help deter major conflict or win if we were forced to fight.”

On Wednesday during a panel at the Aspen Security Forum, Beck spoke about DIU’s challenges when it comes to scaling technologies, saying the organization needs to be faster.

“The thing we haven’t done [is] scale and do it quickly, and that’s what we’re focused on now. And we need that scale both so we can get our strategic impact on the problem, but also, frankly, without that scale, the economics don’t work for the people who are doing this,” he said.