Expert Advice

Defense Innovation Unit: Merging Innovation with Acquisition

“From autonomy and AI to human systems, IT, and space – to solve a host of defense problems.” –Defense Innovative Unit

The Department of Defense founded the Defense Innovation Unit Experiment (DIUx) in 2015 to experiment with the acceleration of adopting commercial technology into the U.S. military through the Other Transactional Authority (OTA) under 10 U.S.C. 2371b. This ruling authorizes the DoD to develop prototype projects directly relevant to enhancing the mission effectiveness of the warfighter without generally being subject to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR).  Fast forward to 2018, the trial was deemed successful and DIUx became simply DIU.  DIU utilizes pilot contracts to link innovative technology to critical DoD and DoD partner needs.  Pilot contracts can include hardware, software or unique services, with the intent to implement at “commercial speed”, which usually translates to under 90 days.  Also, it is important to note that after a successful pilot, follow-on contracts are also released at commercial speed. 

The DIU has five focus areas:

1) Artificial Intelligence
2) Autonomy
3) Human Systems 
4) Cyber and
5) Space, however you also may submit a solution that is not relevant to a current solicitation. 

The process to apply is streamlined as follows:

  • DoD agency releases a solicitation in one of the focus areas.
  • Respond to the solicitation by sending a White Paper or Solution Brief of five pages or less or  if a presentation, 15 slides or less.
  • DIU will get back to you within 30 days if they are interested in learning more and would like your firm to make a pitch. 

See available solicitations and learn more about the Defense Innovation Unit here  To submit an unsolicited proposal, use the following link  


Written by Christina Jones, MBA, Sr./Lead Procurement Specialist