Key takeaways and highlights from our latest annual report

Read DIU's FY22 Annual Report

Read DIU's FY22 Transitions Report

DIU's FY22 Year in Review

Message From the Director

Mike Madsen Headshot small

Mike Madsen, Acting DIU Director

Last year, the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) celebrated its seventh year of accelerating commercial technology adoption across the Department of Defense (DoD). Launched as an experiment in 2015, DIU is now a proven business model for prototyping and acquiring leading-edge technology. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2022, DIU successfully transitioned 17 technology solutions to defense and civilian agency end-users, equating to $1.3B in contract award ceiling. The volume of transitions in FY 2022 is also the greatest we have seen in a single fiscal year, and more than double the eight transitions we saw in FY 2021.

The core of DIU operations continues to be fueled by our Commercial Solutions Opening process leveraging the Other Transaction “OT” authority, and a commitment to being a “fast follower” of commercial technology. In fact, we provided $4.9 B of total value in production OT contract ceiling to commercial companies since 2016, including  most to nontraditional and first-time DoD customers.

Our portfolios focus on leveraging technology from six areas: autonomy, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, cyber, energy, human systems, and space  to enable a modern and agile Joint Force. 

Many of the wins from FY 2022 are a credit to the steady and ambitious leadership of Mike Brown, whose four years at the helm saw many accomplishments of impact, scale and thought leadership. We owe much of where we are today as an organization to his hard work and vision. 

As we move further along into FY 2023, DIU remains dedicated to accelerating commercial solutions to our DoD and U.S. government partners, strengthening our national security innovation base by lowering the barriers to entry and providing recurring revenue to non-traditional companies. I hope this FY 2022 Annual Report conveys the breadth and depth of our work and the positive effect we, as an organization, on our national security.

- Mike Madsen

FY22 In Review

By leveraging flexible acquisition tools and forging more pathways for the military to buy commercial technology at speed and scale, the Defense Innovation Unit ( DIU) is making it easier than ever for first-time, non-traditional, and small businesses to do business with the DoD. Our Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Annual Report highlights the many ways in which DIU has collaborated with commercial innovators to deliver critical capabilities to our service members.

Download the Full FY22 Annual Report


We Transitioned 17 Projects in FY22

DIU’s momentum in production contracts is accelerating, with ceiling totals and averages growing substantially year-over-year. DIU’s record-breaking 17 transitions in FY 2022 equates to $1.3B in contract award ceilings — more than double the eight transitions during FY 2021. With increased resourcing for DIU, both total transitions and contract ceilings are expected to grow in FY 2023 and beyond.

FY22 transitions chart

DIU Saw Record-Breaking Transition Contracts for Commercial Tech in FY 2022. (Source: DIU)

We Provided Early Funding  for Commercial Technology Providers Now Supporting Ukraine 

Since February 2022, countless images and videos have surfaced on social media and in the press depicting Russia’s illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine underscores the value of commercially-available technology, such as overhead imagery and remote sensing services, unmanned aerial systems (UAS), and secure wireless communications. 

AI/ML annual report

Example of xView3 Model applied over European Space Agency Sentinel-1 Synthetic Aperture Radar Imagery; blue bounding boxes indicate vessel detections (Source: European Space Agency)

We Connected With New Companies and Capabilities 

DIU recognizes that good ideas can come from anywhere in the world. We have received solutions from companies in 49 states and 19 countries. Our footprint has expanded to having offices in five locations  in key technology ecosystems around the country— Silicon Valley, Boston, Austin, and Washington, DC — and our newest  office in Chicago. This is part of a broader regional outreach strategy to connect DoD to companies, labs, accelerators, academic partners, and investors.


Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks at the DIU Midwest regional office opening. (Source: Eye of Photography)

In addition, DIU launched its “Regional Roadshow,” a new initiative focused on engaging with companies and investors in different regions across the country. DIU also sources technology solutions from ally and partner nations, enabling us to share solutions more freely and seamlessly.  

We Accelerated DoD’s Adoption of Commercial Technology 

DIU’s momentum is accelerating across all  key performance indicators. In FY 2022, DIU posted 36 new solicitations, which represents a 38% increase from FY 2021. DIU received a record-breaking number of commercial proposals in response to our solicitations and awarded 12.5% more prototype contracts than in FY 2021 with a total value of $204.8M in prototype contracts. 

DIU strives to award prototype contracts 60-90 days after issuing a solicitation. In FY 2022, the average days to award a contract was 142. We are working to gain the human resources needed to further increase our contracting capacity and speed to award.

In total, DIU has directly facilitated the successful transition of 52 prototype contracts into follow-on contracts across DoD, totaling $4.9B in contract ceiling awarded across 48 companies backed by $18B of private capital. 

For more on how DIU transitions have generated meaningful revenue opportunities for our commercial vendors, read the DIU Transition Impact Memo. (Download PDF)

Technologies We Are Prototyping

DIU is efficiently integrating commercial technology and methodologies into the DoD to enable a modern and agile Joint Force.  We are helping to build enduring advantages by growing and strengthening our national security innovation base and transforming our military capabilities and capacity.

DIU has 103 active projects across our six technology portfolios. The following is a snapshot of our ongoing initiatives, which are aimed at creating outsized impact and scale across the Department as well as the whole-of-government.

We are:

Facilitating scalable, persistent awareness of position, navigation, and timing disruptions across the globe.

Position, navigation, and timing technology, or PNT, signals that inform GPS satellites to direct precision-guided munitions are similar to the ones that allow smartphone users to navigate the roadways, making it an essential capability for private citizens and military operators alike. Although a critical infrastructure, it is vulnerable to deception and manipulation. In the fall of 2021, DIU launched the Harmonious Rook prototype to map these GPS disruptions patterns using commercial data to identify, classify, and attribute threats. 

Delivering enhanced visibility of the cyber threat landscape.

In today’s fragmented digital battlefield, governments often leverage non-state proxies to conduct cyber attacks. Historically, DoD has lacked visibility into such threats from both commercial telemetry data and nontraditional cyber data sources. Industry sources estimate that commercial cybersecurity providers already collect over 85% of available cyber threat data, which could fill critical gaps in the Department's cyber threat landscape.

Since 2019, USCYBERCOM’s Cyber National Mission Force (CNMF), and the Service cyber components have partnered with DIU to develop a growing suite of solutions. The DoD is now able to augment existing threat intelligence feeds with available commercial data.


Cyber warfare: The silent hunt (Source: DVIDS)

Leveraging AI to revolutionize talent discovery across the DoD. 

In June 2021, DIU partnered with U.S. military service components to prototype an on-demand talent optimization platform—GigEagle—that leverages AI/ML methodologies to collect and connect DoD’s unique mission needs with available experts in the Guard and Reserve components. 

Working with the Air Force on aircraft that can optimize cargo and tanker operations for the DoD.

The Air Force Operational Energy Office (SAF/IEN) partnered with the DIU, NASA, and commercial industry to prototype a concept of design (CoD) for an advanced aircraft configuration that provides at least 30% more aerodynamic efficiency compared to traditional aircraft models. DIU is currently in the process of competitively down-selecting prospective vendors for this concept of design effort. 


Early Blended Wing Body concept design for NASA (Source: NASA)

Constructing a scalable, resilient, and responsive communications infrastructure.

Legacy ground and space communications systems rely on old technology, inefficient bandwidth allocations, as well as bespoke or proprietary data architectures. Altogether, these attributes inhibit true communications resiliency. DIU’s HSA program seeks to address this by providing global, ubiquitous, and secure internet connectivity throughout the space domain for commercial, civil, and military users, including allies and partners. 

Disrupting illicit and adversarial cryptocurrency transactions. 

In today’s digitized world, nearly every aspect of commercial and political statecraft is vulnerable to disruption, theft, or manipulation. The emergence of cryptocurrencies, in particular, is making it easier to monetize breaches in network security. To address this rising national security threat, USCYBERCOM came to DIU to prototype a solution that is capable of tracing cryptocurrency wallets to individuals and illuminating illicit networks using transaction data, specifically for actions targeted against U.S. government and military interests.


The Ascent AeroSystems Spirit is a coaxial UAV with a wide range of payloads, power sources, and launch methods that can adapt to diverse mission requirements. (Source: Ascent AeroSystems)

Providing new counter-UAS solutions for military installations. 

In June 2021, DIU finalized a $99M contract with Anduril to make C-UAS available across the DoD and other U.S. agencies. Within 90 days of issuing the contract, three government entities made more than $35M in purchases. 

Adapting wearable devices to detect chemical exposure.

Inadvertent exposure to chemical warfare agents presents a concern to civilian and military first responder communities, who may be required to enter environments where similar hazards are present. To address this, DIU and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) launched the Detecting Indicators of Chemical Exposure (DICE) program in 2020 and are currently prototyping chemical detection solutions through Philips Healthcare and PercuSense. 

Accelerating DoD’s battery standardization and adoption.

DIU is partnering with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the U.S. Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC), and the Department of the Navy Operational Energy to accelerate battery standardization and platform electrification within the DoD by aligning defense battery requirements to commercial electric vehicle battery standards.


Jumpstart for Advanced Battery Standardization (JABS) project example. (Source: GM DefenseLLC/PRNewswire)

Transforming communication devices across the DoD.

Communication is essential for conducting military operations. This year, DIU launched two projects with two DoD partners to transform the way the DoD employs tactical communications for use with intelligence teams and the U.S. Coast Guard. 

Initiating prototypes of high-power density fuels to enable future DoD missions. 

Current spacecraft propulsion systems, whether powered by chemical or solar energy, will not meet requirements of future DoD space operations. Nuclear propulsion and power solutions are well-suited to these types of missions as they are able to move large masses at interplanetary distances. Accordingly, in FY 2022, DIU initiated a new project — Nuclear Advanced Propulsion and Power project— to prototype nuclear propulsion solutions for small and medium satellites; appropriate technologies are nuclear decay and fusion.

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For More, Download the Full FY22 Annual Report

Prior DIU Annual Reports:

*Note: In prior annual reports, we based our metrics and performance on calendar year data. Starting in FY 2021, DIU will present metrics and performance on a fiscal year basis. This shift will enable us to better align with DoD and Congressional funding cycles.