The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) – which drives the Defense Department’s (DoD) effort to make faster use of emerging commercial technologies – reported a 35 percent year-over-year jump in new projects for 2020.

DIU said in its annual report  that those numbers break down to 23 new projects initiated in 2020, along with facilitating the transition of 11 completed commercial prototypes to DoD partners. DIU’s project count is now up to 95. Additionally, DIU awarded 56 Prototype Other Transaction (OT) agreements to companies.

“Five years ago, the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) opened its doors in Silicon Valley as “Defense Innovation Unit Experimental,” the report said. “Today, DIU’s mission to strengthen U.S. national security by increasing the military’s adoption of commercial technology and to grow the national security innovation base is critical not only to maintaining a strategic advantage over our adversaries but also to the strength of our economy.”

DIU said its 2020 accomplishments include the following:

  • Adapted the ongoing Rapid Analysis of Threat Exposure project to include pre-symptomatic, early warning of COVID-19 infection;
  • Deployed computer vision algorithms from the xView2 prize competition to assist first responders in post-disaster damage assessment and coordination of humanitarian assistance during the Australian bushfires, California wildfires, and hurricanes;
  • Broadened the span of DIU-facilitated commercial solutions across U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) and national cyber lines of effort, and doubled the number of DIU’s active projects with USCYBERCOM compared to 2019;
  • Released five new secure, trusted small unmanned aerial systems for interagency procurement on the General Services Administration schedule; and
  • Successfully demonstrated the first U.S. commercial synthetic aperture radar “smallsat” with 0.5m resolution, and cosponsored a workshop to identify recommendations for sustained U.S. economic and military advantage in space from industry, academia, and government leaders.

“We owe much of our achievement in 2020 to the growth of the DIU team, the DoD partners that continue to choose DIU and bring us ‘wicked’ problems, and the extraordinary entrepreneurship and creativity of the commercial companies that work with us,” said DIU.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.