In recent years, the US has shifted its defense strategy from building heavy hardware — such as tanks, ships, and aircraft — to investing in disruptive technologies that have the power to transform warfare. Several factors are driving this change, including China’s rapid development of advanced weapon systems, the war in Ukraine, and the break-neck speed of artificial intelligence (AI) advancement.
The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) was established in 2015 to bridge the gap between commercial tech and military procurement bureaucracy and ensure that the US military remains equipped with the best technology available.
Since then, the Pentagon’s efforts to integrate Silicon Valley innovation into national defense have faced challenges, with the top 100 venture-funded defense start-ups raising $42 billion from investors but generating only $2-5 billion in government contracts. Critics, including the Silicon Valley Defense Group (SVDG) and founders/investors of tech start-ups, have accused the Department of Defense (DoD) of lacking sustained commitments to cutting-edge start-ups in major acquisition programs.