Why isn’t there an In-Q-Tel (IQT) for the Department of Defense? For those of you who don’t know, IQT is a non-profit venture fund that is underwritten in part by the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC). The idea is to seed promising technologies that have application to needs in the IC as well as commercial market potential.
The biggest innovation to come out of IQT doesn’t have anything to do with technology – it’s the business model itself. The idea of the super secretive IC outsourcing technology discovery and incubation to the quasi private sector is as revolutionary as it is obvious. IQT harnesses capitalism to harvest the best technology innovations for the IC. Brilliant!
Why then isn’t there an analog of IQT in the DoD? Rather than entrusting private enterprise to drive the innovation engine, DoD has rather clumsily attempted to insert itself in the venture ecosystem through initiatives like DeVenCi, which seek to align DoD and commercial market needs without making any real investments.
DoD should take a page from the IC playbook and leave the venture game to private enterprise. Everyone will come out ahead.
Defense.gov News Article: Officials to Begin Testing Venture Catalyst Solutions.
This is a very interesting article. We see a number of parallels between the technological health of nations and that of industries. How do think defense would fare in a side-by-side comparison with other industries?
Following are some interesting excerpts:
Science fiction author William Gibson’s famous quip that the future is already here but unevenly distributed is the quintessential encapsulation of the fact that we differ in our stages of Technik.
However, the U.S. share of global R&D, like global GDP, has fallen to around 20%, and since not enough of those funds are devoted to commercialization initiatives, the United States sometimes has to buy things it invented a decade ago from competitors abroad.
This phenomena should sound familiar to defense insiders… How many promising technologies spawned from the previous decade of conflict have actually traversed the gap to formal DoD program of record? How long did it take DoD to internalize Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) first successfully demonstrated in Vietnam into the permanent force structure?
Innovation without productization, commercialization, and transition is just an interesting aside. Unfortunately, we can count on having to reinvent many of the same military technologies that so impacted the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq down the road.
The Fight To Harness Emerging Technologies To Improve The World | Co.Exist: World changing ideas and innovation.
For all the Obama Administration’s talk about revitalizing the manufacturing sector and sustaining a robust defense industrial base, there just isn’t much evidence that military planners give the subject any thought.
Army’s Miscues, Botched Buys May Doom Industrial Base.
Among his tips is “Favor the liberators,” which means that you should bet on those who are opening up access to new goods and tools, “turning scarcity into plenty.”
via Predicting the future: bottom-up innovation and open access..
Smart Defense means exposing the commercial technology marketplace to problems in defense – increasing competition, reducing costs, and seeding innovation.
We think it’s time to create a new defense economy – perhaps borrowing from some of the following ideas. In terms of defense, the only way to do “more with less” is to cast a wider net, that is, explode the legacy defense market by tapping into previously untapped sources of new ideas, inspirations, and capabilities.
5 Big Ideas For A New Economy | Co.Exist: World changing ideas and innovation.