Work With Us - DoD Entities

Solve Your Toughest Problems with Commercial Technologies at Commercial Speeds.

We Work With You

Sometimes you know exactly what you’re looking for in a solution and sometimes the journey of solving a problem leads you to a completely new set of capabilities or methods. In any case, our team is here to work with your organization’s dedicated liaison to ensure your project stays on track, you have a direct connection to the company (or companies) working on your challenge, and your organization derives value at every stage.  

After a successful prototype, your organization or any interested DoD entity will have sole source justification to enter into follow-on production contracts or agreements to procure the prototyped solution(s). Our team will work with you to make plans for transition and fielding throughout the duration of your project.

Our Process

  1. You get in touch with us about a mission-critical challenge your organization is facing. We’ll explore next steps if you can offer a dedicated DIU liaison and funding to prototype solutions.

  2. Our team works with you to translate your challenge into a competitive, commercial solicitation designed to deliver innovative proposals.

  3. We’ll solicit commercial solutions, and together we’ll award contracts for one or more prototype projects and begin to chart a path toward technology adoption.

Areas We Focus On


Defense Innovation Unit has connected the COBRA DANE Program Office to non-traditional vendors, helped us navigate change towards rapid acquisition processes, and introduced us to commercial technologies previously not considered. Collaborating with the DIU Space Portfolio team over the past two years has been instrumental in our Program Office’s effort to modernize an aging mission system.

DIU-Commercial-Solutions-Catalog-icon (trimmed)

Capabilities DIU Has Helped Deliver

To provide accelerated delivery of prototyped commercial technology solutions to a broader set of partners across the Department of Defense (DoD), DIU launched the DIU Commercial Solutions Catalog.


Maintainers troubleshoot electrical faults on a C-5 Galaxy. DIU opened the Predictive Maintenance solicitation in July 2017 on behalf of the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and, as of November 2019, the solution prototyped by transitioned to a production-OT agreement. (Staff Sgt. Devin Nothstine/U.S. Air Force)

Common Questions

How does DIU purchase commercial innovation?

DIU developed a solicitation process called the Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO). The CSO enables DoD to work with nontraditional defense contracts in a fast, flexible, and collaborative manner and results in the award of an Other Transaction (OT) agreement. The authority governing OT agreements is 10 U.S.C. § 2371b. Work performed must meet a few basic requirements:

  • it must be a prototype relevant to enhancing military effectiveness;

  • competitive procedures, to the maximum extent practicable, shall be used; and

  • unless a nontraditional defense contractor or small business is participating to a significant extent, one-third of the cost must be borne by someone other than the federal government.

What is a  “prototype”?

DIU uses the DoD OT Guide to define a prototype project. "The definition of a 'prototype project' in the context of an OT is as follows: a prototype project addresses a proof of concept, model, reverse engineering to address obsolescence, pilot, novel application of commercial technologies for defense purposes, agile development activity, creation, design, development, demonstration of technical or operational utility, or combinations of the foregoing. A process, including a business process, may be the subject of a prototype project."

What is a nontraditional defense contractor?

Under 10 U.S.C. § 2302, a nontraditional defense contractor is an entity that is not currently performing and has not performed, for at least the one-year period preceding the solicitation of sources (i.e., solutions) by DoD for the procurement or transaction, any contract or subcontract for DoD that is subject to full coverage under the cost accounting standards (CAS) prescribed pursuant to section 1502 of title 41 of the U.S. Code and the regulations implementing such section. Full CAS coverage applies to contractor business units that either receive a single CAS-covered contract award of $50M or more or received $50M or more in net CAS-covered contracts during its preceding cost accounting period.

What are some of the benefits of using DIU’s OT-based Commercial Solutions Opening instead of the traditional FAR-based process?
  • Negotiable payment milestones, terms and conditions, and intellectual property and data rights

  • No requirement to adhere to government accounting standards

  • Not subject to protest as understood by FAR part 33

  • If the DoD partner wants to deploy the prototype solution, OT authority allows for a follow-on production contract without the need for further competition

  • DIU does NOT use a consortium model: any commercial entity is able to compete for a contract

How can an organization scale a successful prototype throughout their organization?

After a successful prototype, the DoD will have sole source justification to procure the prototyped solution(s) via a follow-on production OT contract. DIU will facilitate this process as well.

What type of funding / appropriation does DIU require for prototype contracts? When does the DoD partner provide funds to DIU?

In general, Research, Development, Test & Evaluation funds (RDT&E) will be used for prototype contracts. However, DIU and its DoD partner examine and analyze each project to determine the appropriate funding on a case-by-case basis. The DoD partner’s Resource / Financial Manager should certify the funds to be used for the effort. 

Which organizations provide DIU contracting support?

DIU has its own contracting authority but also leverages ACC-NJ and WHS-AD. The agreements officers on each of these teams are the only individuals who can bind the government into an OT contract or agreement and obligate funding.

How is intellectual property (IP) treated?

IP rights are fully negotiable under OTs. In general, companies retain ownership of IP assets created during the effort. DoD is usually licensed certain rights to use these assets in accordance with the agreed terms and conditions. These rights control, inter alia, how DoD can use, disclose, or reproduce company-owned proprietary information.