DOD Opens Third Startup Tech Hub in Austin

Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Wednesday unveiled the next Defense Department tech hub in Austin, Texas, aimed at supporting startups with possible national security-related goals. “I not only want to keep Austin weird; I’m counting on it,” Carter said in a Wednesday speech in the Texas capital. “Because the creative thinking that happens in places like Austin is part of what makes our country so innovative and our economy so vibrant and strong.” Austin joins Silicon Valley and Boston as homes to the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, or DIUx. The offices are tasked with identifying existing commercial technology the Pentagon could use, coming technologies that need additional development for military use, and engagement teams to introduce innovators to national security challenges. DIUx offices so far have signed five contracts for $3.5 million, with another 22 projects and $65 million in investments expected soon. The Austin unit will be led by Christine Abizaid, who previously served as the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia. Local Reserve members will join the team, starting with 1st Lt. Samantha Snabes, who is an intelligence officer in the Mississippi Air National Guard, and co-founder and CEO of re:3D, an Austin business that focuses on 3D printing.