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Gov. Pritzker and Department of Defense Announce New Defense Innovation Unit in Chicago

The new satellite office aims to identify new solutions, companies, and talent across the Midwest to solve pressing national security challenges

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Gov. Pritzker and Department of Defense Announce New Defense Innovation Unit in Chicago (Chicago, IL) — Governor Pritzker joined the Department of Defense (DoD), the Illinois National Guard, as well as Senators Durbin and Duckworth, Mayor Lightfoot, and 80 other local military, academic, and industry leaders to celebrate the opening of a Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) office in Chicago.

The new satellite 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. Efforts will be coordinated in the region to lower the barriers to entry, while enabling greater access to the best technology solutions for our nation’s Service members.

“The opening of this Defense Innovation Office here in Chicago represents another way Illinois’ capability and drive for revolutionary technological change will serve the nation in the 21st century,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Chicago and Illinois are proud to once again play an important role in building a better future – helping to safeguard democracy at home and abroad, today and in the years to come.”

Co-located at the Discovery Partners Institute (DPI), the new office will serve as the focal point for DoD engagement with Midwest entrepreneurs and innovators. DIU will share the space with representatives from the National Security Innovation Network, the Army’s 75th Innovation Command, the Army Research Laboratory, members of the Illinois National Guard, and other DoD innovation groups.

In 2020, Governor Pritzker announced the release of more than $142 million to launch new facilities for the DPI and Illinois Innovation Network (IIN), created to accelerate job creation and economic growth through groundbreaking education, research, and discovery. The funding is made possible by the bipartisan Rebuild Illinois Capital program, with state DPI investments matched dollar for dollar through university, private and philanthropic funding sources.

“American innovators are crucial to increasing the strength and resiliency of our supply lines and leveraging the creativity and productivity of the American workforce,” said Dr. Kathleen Hicks, Deputy Secretary of Defense. “Today’s expansion of DIU will help to tap into talent and technology in the Midwest, and add a diverse resource to our innovation and modernization capabilities base.”

Commercial technology is increasingly important in equipping our military with the best technology in areas including artificial intelligence, autonomy, cyber, energy, and space. Chicago will be the fifth DIU office located in technology ecosystems that include- Mountain View, CA; Boston, MA; Austin, TX; and Washington, DC. 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. In turn, DoD aims to discover emerging technology solutions faster, speed up their adoption, and expand the base of suppliers supporting our military.

“On behalf of Chicago’s business community, we welcome the Department of Defense,” said Michael Fasnacht, President & CEO, World Business Chicago, Chief Marketing Officer, City of Chicago. “In opening your Midwest regional office in Chicago, you can easily tap into our global reach and influence, as well, the city’s network of diverse, innovative, and forward-thinking companies that are developing, and incubating, the solutions needed to support our nation’s defense today and in the future.”

“DIU is excited to add Chicago to deepen the DoD’s reach to identify new solutions, companies, and talent to solve our national security challenges,” said Michael Brown, DIU Director. “Leveraging the innovation of entrepreneurs across the Midwest will enable DIU to provide new capabilities to our Servicemembers.”

In addition to the morning’s in-person event, DIU is hosting a virtual Regional Roadshow the afternoon of April 21st for companies and organizations across the Midwest who may be interested in doing business with the DoD. This conversation will provide a short overview of DIU and NSIN, their focus areas and processes, and how they are working to lower the barriers to entry to the DoD. Registration for this webinar can be found here.

Gov. Pritzker and Department of Defense Announce New Defense Innovation Unit in Chicago

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