DIU Director Michael Brown Delivers Defense R&D Summit Keynote on Leveraging Commercial Tech in Federal Government

Defense agency and commercial sector leaders came together on Wednesday to examine the Department of Defense’s current research and development strategies, technology innovation efforts and acquisition reform initiatives during the Potomac Officers Club’s highly-anticipated 8th Annual Defense R&D Summit.

After the virtual audience heard from Heidi Shyu, DOD undersecretary for research and engineering; DARPA Director Dr. Stefanie Tompkins; Amanda Toman, acting principal director of DOD’s 5G Initiative, and two expert panels, the program culminated in a thoughtful and informative closing keynote address delivered by Michael Brown, director of the Defense Innovation Unit and an inductee into Executive Mosaic’s Wash100 for 2022.

Mark Luncher, vice president of programs for SAIC’s national security space sector, gave an introduction of DIU Director Michel Brown, who kicked off his keynote speech with a look into how his organization leverages cutting-edge commercial technology to accelerate the speed of innovation within the federal landscape.

If you missed Wednesday’s event, visit PotomacOfficersClub.com, where you can watch the full 8th Annual Defense R&D Summit on-demand now.

“I often say that more appropriately, we would’ve been called ‘Defense Commercial Technology’,” Brown quipped in the opening statements of his keynote address, noting that the true focus of the Defense Innovation Unit is on adopting industry tech advancements into U.S. defense agencies.

The DIU, Brown explained, was stood up in 2015 by then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter to act as a bridge between government, academia and industry in the Defense Department’s pursuit of technological dominance in the global defense landscape.

“Everything we do is about bringing in the innovation and the new capabilities that are being developed at a very rapid rate in commercial industry in areas like AI, cyber and autonomous systems,” Brown added of DIU’s mission.

In regards to the alignment of technological priorities between DIU and the private sector, Brown shared that “in fact, eight of the ten modernization priorities of the military are commercial technology areas.”

The other two areas, directed energy and hypersonics, do also have commercial activity today, and Brown pointed out that there is now commercial activity in all ten of the Defense Department’s modernization priority areas.

Additionally, Brown said the DIU was designed to be particularly more fast-moving than other defense agencies so that it can work with a wide range of commercial companies on their own terms and leverage these partnerships towards a common goal of strengthening military capabilities.

“To really have an effective military, we need to rely on all of the brain power, the incubators, the startups and the academic communities that are generating a lot of the ideas that are pushing these new technologies forward,” Brown said.

“We’re trying to both access that base for the military and then do what we can to grow it,” he said.

Click here to watch Michael Brown’s full keynote speech detailing the DOD’s tech and modernization focus areas and to hear the full program of insightful discussions during the Potomac Officers Club’s 8th Annual Defense R&D Summit.

It’s not too late to register for the Potomac Officers Club’s final Data-Driven 2021 Series event, Fostering Resilient, All-of-Nation Pandemic Response this afternoon! Rear Admiral Bruce Gillingham, surgeon general for the U.S. Navy, will keynote the event, followed by a panel discussion featuring significant federal and industry health sector leaders.

Register now for the Jan. 25 event.

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