WASHINGTON, DC — On January 6th, National Defense Magazine published Avascent Managing Director Tim Wickham and writer-in-resident August Cole’s recent op-ed detailing why the defense industry should build stronger ties to Silicon Valley.
The Defense Department is clearly looking beyond the defense establishment for technologies that will give it a decisive operational edge in tomorrow’s conflicts, The Long Range Research and Development Plan (LRRDP) Request for Information, issued this past December is evidence of this trend. While Ash Carter’s recent stint in Silicon Valley alludes to the fact that the Pentagon is looking in that direction for ideas, DoD has not given west coast technology companies a strong value proposition that would mitigate the red tape, secrecy and politics that comes with defense projects.
One of the first things the department must do is to acknowledge what makes Silicon Valley unique as a place that fosters game-changing ideas. Failure is embraced, and it has led to a “fail faster” approach.”
In order to define that value proposition, and hopefully thereby benefit from the leap ahead technologies that often come from Valley entrepreneurs, DoD should take note of a two key west coast business trends. 1) Venture capitalists who invest in technology R&D place a lot of bets—in order to fail fast in the quest for a high-return payoff; this defies the Pentagon’s risk-adverse behavior. 2) Small tech companies with promise are often looking for investors that can afford them business guidance, legal counsel and a stamp of approval; government contracting is not set up to afford these benefits.
Firms within the defense industry could play a crucial liaison role between the Valley and the Pentagon by aiding the former with contracting hurdles and product integration, and deciphering what the latter needs and wants for the future. First movers within the defense industry to reach out this helping hand will be in a prime position to disrupt rivals and reap financial rewards.
Click here to read “Why the Pentagon and the Defense Industry Need to Engage Silicon Valley“