news | 15 February 2024

Recap: DIU Gathers Government, Commercial Tech Leaders for Defense Innovation Summit

DIU Summit INDOPACOM panel
The summit included a deep dive on INDOPACOM priorities.

February 16, 2023, Mountain View, California - During an afternoon summit at its Silicon Valley headquarters, the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) brought together leaders from the Department of Defense (DoD) and the commercial sector to discuss ways to deepen collaboration between the government and tech sectors. The summit also emphasized efforts to scale the deployment of commercial technology to users across the DoD. The event focused on ways to address strategic Combatant Command needs with autonomous technology solutions, at scale. 

In his opening remarks, DIU Director Doug Beck emphasized the need for all players in the defense innovation ecosystem to come together to take the calculated risks necessary to achieve the strategic impact and deter adversaries, including the People’s Republic of China. 

“All of us together can get that incredible flywheel of American dynamism going so that we can solve the strategic challenges that we all face,” he said, addressing a room of more than 200 in-person guests, including government leaders, founders, funders, and representatives from partner and ally nations. 

As DIU looks to attract commercial players into the defense market, Beck highlighted DIU’s commitment to sending clear and consistent demand signals while breaking down barriers to entry.

“We need to make it easy for all of you to understand what those needs look like and what problems we need to solve. That should be as clear as possible to as many people as possible,” he said.

The afternoon featured a  fireside chat with Admiral Samuel Paparo, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, who lauded the unique position of the U.S. innovation community and the need for continued strength, especially in the Pacific region.

“The United States of America has got a key strategic advantage in the intellectual and technological innovation that it brings to bear, just as a virtue of how the republic is set up and our own geography,” he said.

As important as it is to get commercial companies on board in the innovation space, Paparo said that leaders within the DoD must become more comfortable taking risks in pursuing new means of technology, as is being done with the Replicator initiative.

Other highlights from the Summit included a deep dive on INDOPACOM priorities, an introduction to the new Joint Mission Accelerator Directorate, and a discussion about opportunities to deploy autonomous systems for strategic effect. Panelists—including INDOPACOM Chief of Staff MG Joshua Rudd—offered expert insights on the regional importance of all-domain attributable autonomous (ADA2) systems. Government officials also took the stage to review the  DoD’s Replicator initiative, covering key details, milestones, and next steps for the project.

Participants onsite divided into five breakout sessions with topic areas that covered: 

  • Architecture and collaborative autonomy for ADA2

  • Production at scale of ADA2 systems 

  • Ukraine and other operational lessons for UAS

  • Operational lessons in maritime autonomy

  • Untapped Tech Potential for USINDOPACOM Priorities

Highlights from these conversations will be shared on the DIU website in the coming week. 

The Summit is the first large-scale gathering of the defense innovation community since the release of the DIU 3.0 strategy. At its core, DIU 3.0 seeks to maximize the strategic impact of defense innovation efforts on the DoD’s ability to deter war and ensure our nation’s security. Ensuring that talented innovators understand our Combatant Commands’ key operational needs is a first step toward increasing the mutual value of the DoD-commercial tech sector partnership.