The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) is a United States Department of Defense (DoD) organization founded to help the U.S. military make faster use of emerging commercial technologies. Launched in 2015, the organization has been called “the Pentagon’s Innovation Experiment”. DIU is staffed by civilian and both active duty and reserve military personnel. The organization is headquartered in Mountain View, California — Silicon Valley — with offices in Boston, Austin, Chicago, and the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C.
The DIU’s stated mission is to accelerate DoD adoption of commercial technology, transform military capacity and capability, and strengthen the American national security innovation base.
It seeks to strengthen US national security by accelerating the adoption of commercial technology throughout the military and growing the national security innovation base. DIU partners with organizations across the Department of Defense, from the services and components to combatant commands and defense agencies, to rapidly prototype and field advanced commercial products that address national security challenges.
DIU operates six portfolios dedicated to solving national security demand in areas of AI/ML (artificial intelligence/machine learning), Autonomy, Cyber, Human Systems, Energy, and Space. In 2016, DIU, then known as DIUx, pioneered a process called the ‘Commercial Solutions Opening’ (CSO) created by Lauren Dailey, David Rothzeid, and Robert Trejo along with a group of contracting officers from Army Contracting Command (ACC-NJ)  for awarding prototype contracts through the use of Other Transaction Authority (OTA) leveraging USC Title 10 §2371b for competitive selection of advanced commercial technologies. After a period of rapid prototyping, the resulting materiel can be transitioned and scaled through production OT (2371b(f)) agreements, or other follow-on contracts for units and organizations that find utility with the prototyping effort. —Wikipedia, “Defense Innovation Unit”
The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) strengthens our national security by accelerating the adoption of commercial technology throughout the military and strengthening our allied and national security innovation bases. DIU partners with organizations across the Department of Defense (DoD), from the services and components to combatant commands and defense agencies, to rapidly prototype and field advanced commercial solutions that address national security challenges. With offices in Silicon Valley, Boston, Austin, Chicago and the Pentagon, DIU connects its DoD partners with leading technology companies across the country.
DIU is the only DoD organization focused exclusively on fielding and scaling commercial technology across the U.S. military at commercial speeds. We are focused on six technology areas where the commercial sector is operating at the leading edge: artificial intelligence, autonomy, cyber, energy, human systems, and space.
We aim to move from problem identification to prototype contract award in 60–90 days whereas the traditional DoD contracting process often takes more than 18 months. Prototype projects typically run from 12–24 months and are administered according to Other Transaction (OT) authority. Upon completion, successful prototypes may transition to follow-on production-OT agreements or FAR-based contracts.
Areas We Focus On: Artificial Intelligence, Autonomy, Cyber, Energy, Human Systems, and Space. —Defense Innovation Unit, “About“