DIU sets up shop in Chicago

Joe Daniel Price/Getty Images

The Defense Department's tech innovation arm is expanding with a new midwest office.

The Defense Innovation Unit, which helps expand the DOD's use of commercial technologies to solve national security problems, is opening what will be its fifth office in Chicago. 

DIU also has offices in other regions with robust tech-centered ecosystems of companies and academic institutions including Mountain View, Calif., Boston, Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C.

"Chicago is part of DIU's broader regional strategy to extend DoD's reach as a customer and economic development partner to companies, labs, accelerators, academia, and investors across the country," DOD wrote in an announcement of the move. 

"The Chicago office aims to identify new solutions, companies, and talent across the Midwest to solve pressing national security challenges and offer companies a faster path to Department of Defense (DoD) contracts."

The DIU has steadily added to its portfolio since its beginnings in 2016 with nearly 300 other transaction agreement contracts. In 2021, the agency awarded 72 new prototype other transaction agreement contracts, a nearly 30% increase from 2020, according to the agency's report.

Additionally, as DIU's workload increases the need for more physical offices could follow. The 2022 National Defense Authorization Act gave the defense secretary the power to expand the agency's physical presence nationwide "to accelerate the adoption of commercially developed advanced technology in modernization priority areas" and "expand outreach to communities that do not otherwise have a Defense Innovation Unit presence, including economically disadvantaged communities."