Defense Innovation Unit finds new director

The Pentagon changed the leadership structure of the Defense Innovation Unit as a new director takes over.

The Defense Department tapped Doug Beck as the new director of the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) on Tuesday. Beck will replace Mike Madsen, who served as acting director since last September.

With the new director will also come a change in the leadership structure at the unit.

In a memo Tuesday addressed to Pentagon leadership, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said DIU’s reporting and management structure would be updated. Under the realignment, the DIU director will report directly to the Secretary of Defense.

“DIU will continue to focus on accelerating promising technologies in critical areas consistent with the national defense strategy. The DIU director shall serve as a leader inside the department to catalyze engagement and investment into private sector communities where commercial technology can be adapted and applied to meet our warfighters requirements,” Austin said in the memo.

With offices in Silicon Valley, Boston, Austin and at the Pentagon, DIU partners with organizations to foster innovation with private industry for military applications.

Beck currently serves as vice president of Apple in charge of worldwide education, health, and government. He brings a resume of military, government and private sector experience to the DIU as the unit works to establish fast track production of defense-related technology and strengthen the ties between the Pentagon and Silicon Valley.

Beck began working at Apple in 2009, and before that at the Charles Schwab Corp. and as a partner at McKinsey & Company. He is an officer in the Navy reserves and served in Iraq and Afghanistan with a joint special operations task force. Beck serves on the Chief of Naval Operations executive panel, and as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He has served in a variety of both formal and informal advisory positions with DoD.

DoD started DIU in 2015 with the goal of developing and scaling commercial technology for military use. It partners with organizations across DoD too build prototypes and develop dual-use capabilities. After projects reach completion, successful prototypes can transition to follow-on production like other transaction agreements or Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)-based contracts.

DIU draws together Defense agencies and commercial partners with venture capital to bring new technology into production. It uses other transaction authority to speed the process of getting new technology prototypes built for military purposes. Last year, those awards reached over $1 billion. That included 17 transitions from development to production,  more than doubling the eight transitions the unit shepherded through in fiscal 2021.


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