DIUX Issues Tech Wish List and Names Companies Under Contract

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Secretary of Defense Ash Carter visits the DIUx Boston office. (DoD photo)The Pentagon’s innovation cell — DIUX — released the list of companies who received contracts worth $36 million in the fourth quarter of the 2016 fiscal year, and announced its technology priorities for next year.

The list of companies that received funding offers a window into some of the opportunities of working through the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental’s (DIUX) new acquisition process. One of the initial critiques of the experimental cell established by Defense Secretary Ash Carter in April 2015 was the lack of contracts that followed the initial outreach to tech companies.

When Carter overhauled DIUX’s leadership he also introduced a new program to speed applications through the typically slow defense acquisition process to get companies funded in under 30 days. Called the Commercial Solutions Opening, DIUX officials highlighted the 12 companies who most recently received funding as an example of the progress the innovation cell has made.

A cybersecurity firm, Tanium, based in Emeryville, Calif., received the largest contract, $12.7 million, followed closely by a group of aircraft companies who received $12.6 million to build a high speed drone aircraft. DIUX approved additional contracts developing underwater drones, artificial intelligence and additional cybersecurity products.

Out of the $36 million spent on contracts, DIUX was only responsible for $8 million of the actual expenditure. Other Defense Department agencies picked up the remaining bill. DIUX officials have highlighted these partnerships as a major benefit for startups and small businesses interested in working with DIUX.

“Having the ability to use some of our funds in conjunction with the services helps for a couple reasons,” DIUX Managing Director Raj Shah told reporters. “It buys down some of the risk when working with companies they may not have worked with before. Working at the speed of business is critical to our success, and having a pool of funds of our own helps get projects started earlier than they would have otherwise. There are cases where we’ve scoped out a project and we know the full magnitude of the resources required, so we can front some of the investment to get it started while our partners work on the back-end contract.”

2017 Technology Priorities

DIUX didn’t just announce the companies who received contracts, the organization also released highlights on its wish list for 2017. Officials said they want to find companies developing multifactor authentication, cyber protection toolkits, micro-satellites and advanced analytics.

From that wish list, multifactor authentication certainly stood out with DIUX officials saying the innovation cell wants to invest in “one or more multifactor authentication technologies to prototype solutions to this problem.”

DIUX leaders also want to use a combination of micro-satellites and advanced analytics to improve its intelligence gathering with space-based imagery. Intelligence officials have seen what commercial companies have done with large volumes of imagery and how they’ve used them for advanced analytics.

DIUX wants to invest in similar technologies and upload those images and insights onto a cloud computing platform.

To see the entire list of companies who received contracts, scroll down. The summary of the contract and technology was issued by DIUX in the press release it sent out in its first Quarterly Report. Sean Singleton, the director of engagement for DIUX, said the innovation cell will continue to send out the quarterly reports to inform startups interested in working with DIUX.

DIUX 2016 Fourth Quarter Contract List

Tanium

  • Contract: $12.7 milion
  • Headquarters: Emeryville, Calif.
  • Product: Endpoint Querying Solution
  • Customer: DoD CIO/Army

DIUX Summary: The DoD owns and operates one of the world’s largest legacy enterprise networks. The challenge of maintaining current situational awareness of all machines on the network to include patching levels, configurations, and the ability to modify them directly impacts the department’s ability to reduce the
computer network attack surface presented to adversaries. DIUx is working with Tanium to provide near
real-time visibility and control of network endpoints that scales to support the size and complexity of
DoD networks. The end result will provide our cyber defense operators the ability to monitor and react to
the rapidly changing threats with confidence and speed.

Composite Engineering, Cratos and three other companies

  • Contract: $12.6 million
  • Product: High Speed Drone Aircraft
  • Headquarters: Roseville, Calif., and San Diego, Calif.
  • Customer: STRATCOM

DIUX Summary: DoD is exploring the use of high speed drones in either fully autonomous or semi-autonomous roles to support fourth and fifth generation fighter aircraft. To enable this concept development, the DoD needs to rapidly integrate and test both DoD and commercial capabilities onto a high-speed drone testbed. DIUx,
in coordination with other service and joint organizations, will work with commercial drone vendors to
ensure that a high speed drone can be used “as a service” for testing and experimentation.

Improbable

  • Contract: $5.8 million
  • Product: Game Theoretic Sandbox
  • Headquarters: London
  • Customer DoD CIO

DIUX Summary: DoD traditionally uses war games to map, plan and execute dynamic scenarios to inform plans. Through Improbable, complex simulations can be built and run on thousands of virtual machines to leverage massive amounts of data. DoD is interested in prototyping these commercial technologies and data applications to build a scalable simulation sandbox for real-world event modeling and planning. This technology can provide finely detailed re-creation of events.

Saildrone

  • Contract: $1.5 million
  • Product: Unmanned Maritime Surface Vehicle
  • Headquarters: Alameda, Calif.
  • Customer: DoD

DIUX Summary: Collecting scientific data and maritime information at sea is expensive and challenging in many areas of the world. Manned vessels are expensive and often cannot be in enough places at once or cannot reach certain areas because of hazards and threats. DIUx is investing in wind powered autonomous sailing platforms that operate on the ocean’s surface, provide persistent maritime surveillance and reconnaissance for the Navy, and navigate the ocean autonomously without the need for manned crews and human pilots.

Shield AI

  • Contract: $1 million
  • Product: Autonomous Indoor Tactical Drone
  • Headquarters: San Diego/Boston
  • Customer: DoD

DIUX Summary: US forces are required to fight adversaries in tight, dangerous quarters like caves, tunnel complexes, ships under way, and enemy strongholds. These environments are often owned by the enemy, and our soldiers are often forced to enter these structures without a complete picture of the lethal threats. DIUx is investing in small tactical handheld quadcopters to solve this problem. These unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), designed specifically to fly indoors rather than out, can autonomously speed through built and natural structures, mapping out their interiors and identifying threats without the need for a human pilot or a global positioning system (GPS).

Zeuss

  • Contract: $500,000
  • Product: Knowledge Management
  • Headquarters: San Francisco
  • Customer: DoD

DIUX Summary: DoD organizations and military units are overwhelmed with the incredible pace that data is being generated internally along with constant staff turnover. DIUx is prototyping a Silicon Valley startup’s knowledge management and enterprise search platform. Zeuss aggregates communications and disparate data from across the organization, illuminates key relationships and allows people to find what they are looking for by presenting data in a way that people natively understand it.

Qadium

  • Contract: $500,000
  • Product: Network Change Detection and Processing
  • Headquarters: San Francisco
  • Customer DISA

DIUX Summary: DoD networks are constantly probed by both adversary militaries and foreign intelligence services. DoD must understand how our networks look to adversaries, how DoD network assets can potentially be exploited by adversaries, and how we can automatically detect vulnerabilities and confirm their
remediation. DIUx is working with Qadium, which continually indexes all devices connected to the
public Internet, enabling organizations to understand their networks and how they relate to the broader
world. This will allow DoD to detect and manage these vulnerabilities, addressing previously unseen
security risks by developing comprehensive network footprints of their organizations.

BMNT Partners

  • Contract: $500,000
  • Product: Problem Curation, Translation, and Research
  • Headquarters: Palo Alto, Calif., and Los Angeles
  • Customer: DIUx and DIA

DIUX Summary: DoD personnel often lack the tools and processes to adequately understand rapidly evolving problems. DIUx is developing a new mechanism to refine and validate problems before engaging the traditional acquisition process. DIUx will translate these problems into commercial language, situations, and applications. By bridging the language gap, DIUx dramatically expands the number of non-traditional companies who are aware of opportunities to bring their innovative solutions to bear on DoD problems.

Bromium

  • Contract: $400,000
  • Product: Endpoint Security
  • Headquarters: Cupertino, Calif.
  • Customer: DoD

DIUX Summary: The DoD requires an end-point security solution capable of protecting individual endpoints from known and unknown malware threats that are delivered across the network, with minimal impact to a user and the end-point’s system performance. DIUX is piloting Bromium’s technology, which uses micro-virtualization to hardware-isolate untrusted user-initiated tasks and to protect critical OS services.

Quid

  • Contract: $400,000
  • Product: Automated Textual Analysis and Content Curation
  • Headquarters: San Francisco
  • Customer: Army, U.S. Special Operations Command

DIUX Summary: The DoD lacks the ability to rapidly analyze, visualize, and derive insight from news sources, blogs, social media, patent databases, scientific/academic publications, and other large volumes of text-based content on mission critical intelligence, operational, and national security topics. DIUx is working with Quid to leverage an algorithmic approach to expand a user’s ability to comprehend massive amounts of information on any given topic. Interactive visual maps depicting this information make it easier to navigate and determine relationships through the world’s open-source and proprietary intelligence.

Sonitus

  • Contract: $200,000
  • Product: Wireless, Hands-Free, Ears-Free, Communicator
  • Headquarters: San Mateo, Calif.
  • Customer: Air National Guard

DIUX Summary: Operators across DoD frequently need to communicate with each other in the midst of operations while maintaining situational awareness. Existing communication tools – either through traditional radios or headsets – add weight to a warfighter’s load, occupy their hands, or restrict visibility. DIUx is adapting commercially available hands-free, ears-free, two-way removable communications devices placed in the mouth that integrate wirelessly to radios and offer clear communications in high noise environments.

Halo Neuroscience

  • Contract: $153,000
  • Product: Strength and Skill Training Enhancement
  • Headquarters: San Francisco
  • Customer: DoD

DIUX Summary: Warfighters constantly train to improve their skills. DIUx awarded its first contract to
Halo Neuroscience in just 31 days. Halo Sport is a head-worn stimulation system, similar to a pair of
headphones, that increases the brain’s natural ability to adapt to training. Halo Sport headsets will be used
by special ops teams, who will work with Halo to assess the effects of this neurostimulation and evaluate
improvements in tactical motor skills, such as marksmanship, close-quarters-combat, and overall strength
training.

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