news | 8 March 2024

Joint Defense Innovation Office Expands Presence in Austin

DIU Austin Ribbon Cutting

Defense Innovation Ecosystem Provides Easily Accessible Front Door to DoD

Austin, TX (March 8, 2024) — As the Department of Defense (DoD) builds tech sector relationships, investments, and ensures a coordinated outreach to industry, AFWERX, the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), and NAVALX have joined together to launch a new Joint Defense Innovation workspace in Austin, Texas. Located at the Capital Factory, the joint space will be located next to the Army Applications Laboratory and other government innovation units to better provide collaboration opportunities across the organizations and also to make them more accessible to startup companies.

“DIU established the first government innovation presence in Austin in 2016 and that has led to a collaborative government setting that allows for serendipitous interactions with the local tech community,” said Joshua Baer, Founder and CEO of Capital Factory. “Since then, we’ve tracked more than $500 million in government funding to Texas startups with dual-use technology. This expansion will undoubtedly result in new Government funding to protect our future and fuel our economy.”

The opening of the space coincides with South by Southwest 2024 activities, where guests joined DoD leaders, industry representatives and local Austin representatives, in a ribbon cutting. The event was part of a series of engagements going on during the week centered around innovative technology in support of national security.

“Catalyzing the DoD’s innovation entities into a community of impact provides an opportunity for greater synergy and impact, from the local to a national level,” said Doug Beck, Director of the Defense Innovation Unit.  “I’m thrilled by the teamwork and partnership represented by this step in building our presence together here in Austin.”

Across the DoD, while innovation organizations are delivering results ranging from tech scouting to fielding commercial capabilities, the co-location of the organizations is an effort to better scale the adoption of commercial technology across the Department leading to greater strategic impact. These coordinated efforts are part of the DoD’s focus on improving the demand signals to the commercial tech sector making it easier for tech companies, particularly startups and small firms, to engage with the Department. 

"This new space is a testament to the strong collaboration happening across the DoD's innovation organizations," said Col Elliott Leigh, Director of AFWERX and Chief Commercialization Officer for the Department of the Air Force. 

“Austin is a strategically important innovation ecosystem and Capital Factory provides us a front door for innovators wanting to solve Navy and Marine Corps challenges,” said CAPT Stephen “Casey”. Plew, Director, NAVALx. “Our partnerships with DIU, AAL, AFWERX, and the entire DoD innovation community is our greatest path to success.” 

This workspace is part of the innovation community’s effort to be an accessible “Front door to DoD,” lowering barriers to entry and tapping into the talent and technology around the country for our national security. To improve collaboration across innovation organizations, Austin joins other DoD collaborative spaces  like the Joint Innovation Lab in Arlington, Virginia, which co-locates DoD organizations such as AFWERX, NAVALX, Office of Strategic Capital, DIU, National Security Innovation Network and National Security Innovation Capital.