DIU opens Chicago office

By Briana Reilly / April 21, 2022 at 10:30 AM

The Pentagon's Defense Innovation Unit has officially opened its new satellite office in Chicago, marking the organization's fifth outpost and first in the Midwest.

First announced in fall 2021, the office’s opening today marks DIU’s shift toward a more regional outreach focus aiming to connect innovative companies with the Defense Department.

“DIU is excited to add Chicago to deepen the DOD's reach to identify new solutions, companies and talent to solve our national security challenges,” Michael Brown, DIU’s director, said in a press release today. “Leveraging the innovation of entrepreneurs across the Midwest will enable DIU to provide new capabilities to our servicemembers.”

After beginning with an experimental office in Silicon Valley under then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter in 2016, DIU has set up shop in Austin, TX, Boston, MA, and Washington, DC. The new Chicago office will serve 12 states across the unit’s Midwest region, according to today’s release, and is co-located with the Discovery Partners Institute.

The opening precedes a planned online regional roadshow event DIU is hosting this afternoon with Midwest-based companies and organizations, and those interested can register here.

In all since its creation, Brown wrote in testimony submitted to the Senate Armed Services Committee’s emerging threats and capabilities panel in early April that the unit has seen companies from 47 states and DC, as well as more than a dozen countries, vie for contract awards.

In the last fiscal year, DIU awarded 31% more prototype other transaction contracts compared to FY-20 and transitioned eight programs to DOD users, according to its annual report. Over the first five months of FY-22, Brown wrote that the unit has already “facilitated the successful transition of an additional four capabilities.”