news | 4 November 2021

DIU to Expand Efforts to Midwest to Identify Broader Commercial Solutions for Department of Defense Needs

New regional focus with DoDx innovation offices to help scale outreach efforts and strengthen the national security innovation base

November 4, 2021  | Mountain View, CA-- The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) will formally open its fifth and newest office in Chicago, IL in 2022 as part of a broader effort to increase its reach to commercial companies in the Midwest.

"We need our current and future partners from commercial industry to play a major role in the Department’s efforts to modernize our forces," said USD(R&E) Heidi Shyu. "The Department must encourage opportunities for non-traditional companies to participate and I will look to the Defense Innovation Unit and our regional hubs to spur this collaboration. I am particularly excited about the newest DIU office in Chicago representing the incredible technology and private investment occurring across the Midwest region to help ensure that we deliver superior capabilities to our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Guardians today and tomorrow."

DIU operates in four technology ecosystems around the country – Mountain View, CA; Boston, MA; Austin, TX; and Washington, DC – to identify and attract the best of breed commercial technology for the Department of Defense (DoD). Since launching the  Commercial Solutions Opening in 2016, DIU has made prototype awards to more than 250 companies across 24 states, Washington, DC, and six countries, but responses from Midwest states are underrepresented.  After interviewing companies, accelerators, universities, and venture capital firms across the Midwest to identify the challenges, Chicago was selected as DIU’s regional hub in a growing innovation ecosystem.

"Every year, more tech companies are opening offices in Chicago and enhancing our status as a leading hub for 21st-century innovation," said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. "DIU's expansion further demonstrates our city's advantages and strengths, as well as its ability to attract the next big names in this ever-growing industry. I welcome DIU's expanded presence in the Midwest and look forward to working with them to continue fostering Chicago's strong innovation ecosystem."

The establishment of DIU’s Chicago office is part of a broader regional outreach strategy to connect DoD to companies, labs, military bases, accelerators, academic partners, and investors. To reach organizations across the 12 states that makeup DIU’s Midwest region, DIU’s will leverage a full-time and part-time reservist team as well as coordinate with government partners, some of whom already have hubs in the region, including the National Security Innovation Network, the Army Applications Laboratory, AFWERx, the Army’s 75th Innovation Command, and NavalX.

"There is untapped potential to support the military through innovative companies in the Midwest.  We look forward to engaging entrepreneurs and investors to strengthen the national security innovation base," said Mike Brown, Director of the Defense Innovation Unit.

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About Our Regional Strategy

DIU operates in five technology ecosystems around the country –. The establishment of DIU’s Chicago office is part of a broader regional outreach strategy to connect DoD to companies, labs, military bases, accelerators, academic partners, and investors.

DIU Location Icons Silicon Valley

Mountain View, CA

DIU Location Icons Austin

Austin, TX

DIU Location Icons Boston

Boston, MA

DIU Location Icons Pentagon

Washington, DC

Chicago Office Icon

Chicago, IL

Through our regional hub offices (Mountain View, CA; Boston, MA; Austin, TX; and Washington, DC; and as of 2021, in Chicago, IL), DIU leverages our staff (including reservists and national guard members), special government employees (SGEs), as well as DoD innovation partners (i.e., the National Security Innovation Network, AFWERx, the Army Futures Command, and NavalX) to deliver a unified defense innovation message and create opportunities for domestic innovators.

DIU lowers the barriers to entry to the DoD market, helping to attract investments in dual-use technologies and further strengthening our national security. DIU and our sister DoD innovation organizations (National Security Innovation Network, National Security Innovation Capital, AFWERx, Army Applications Lab,  NAVALx),  also act as a front door to the DoD. 

How To Do Business with DIU

If you’re a commercial innovator or venture capitalist, we want your solutions -- contact our Commercial Engagement Team by emailing

You can also learn more about doing business by watching our below and checking out our solicitations page.

How DIU Works with Commercial Companies

Watch this overview to learn more about the DIU process and how we lower barriers to entry into the defense market for companies that have never before worked with the Department of Defense.

If you are a DoD partner and want to share a national security challenge, we want to connect with you -- contact our Defense Engagement Team by emailing