Emerging Defense Technologies Need Funding to Cross ‘The Valley of Death’ | ITIF

Emerging Defense Technologies Need Funding to Cross ‘The Valley of Death’

Robert D. Atkinson February 15, 2020
February 15, 2020

It has become abundantly clear that the United States faces a robust economic and military competitor in China. In at least one respect, this is a more daunting challenge than America faced in the Cold War because while the former Soviet Union had a strong military, it struggled with a weak economy. In those days, the United States also could rely on specialized defense contractors to provide most of the technologies that the Defense Department needed to maintain military superiority, but that's no longer true. Now, many of the capabilities the country needs for its defense reside in the private sector. It is, therefore, critical to establish better links between the commercial sector and the military.

Enter the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), a Defense Department entity that was launched in 2015 to work more closely with the private sector. DIU conducts a number of initiatives to work more closely with new and established U.S. companies and help them provide the kinds of technological capabilities our warfighters need. But, as Rob Atkinson writes in RealClearDefense, one notable DIU initiative—a proposed program to invest in start-ups that can provide DoD promising new technologies—has been stalled while it waits for Congress to appropriate its funding.