Pentagon's Innovation Director engages with Army soldier-centered innovation program, Dragon’s Lair

Recognizing the critical role defense innovation has in meeting national security objectives through talent and competition, DIU participated in the ninth installment of the ‘Dragon’s Lair’ competition co-hosted by the 18th Airborne Corps and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) at the Entrepreneurs Sandbox in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Focused on unlocking new ideas and perspectives to advance the U.S. military through optimization, modernization, and transformation, DIU Director Doug Beck judged the competition along with Adm. John C. Aquilino, Commander, U.S. INDOPACOM, and selected leaders from the technology and investment sectors.

“This effort [Dragon’s Lair] is a tremendous way to recognize and develop innovators from within the force,” said Beck. “Dragon’s Lair is a great example of innovative partners from the broader DoD community - in this case the 18th Airborne Corps and INDOPACOM - taking ideas and running with them in a way that delivers real impact.”

Pitches ranged from expeditious container solutions to address the challenges of material shortages to an electromagnetic warfare decoy emitter as a low-cost deception option that provides units with the ability to replicate friendly signatures to confuse adversaries.

This “Shark Tank”-style competition, designed based on the challenge process implemented by DIU’s National Security Innovation Network (NSIN), gives service members of all ranks a platform to convey their new ideas and concepts to civilian technical experts and senior military leaders.

The eight competing groups/individuals, who were chosen from 122 initial submissions and represented multiple ranks and branches of the military, presented their ideas directly to military and civilian leaders. Winners were awarded a Meritorious Service Medal, the military school of their choosing, and the opportunity to have their idea implemented within the U.S. Department of Defense.

Discover more about Dragon’s Lair here.

About National Security Innovation Network

NSIN is a program office in the U.S. Department of Defense, nested within the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU). We are set up to collaborate with a wide variety of innovators to include universities, researchers, students, entrepreneurs and start-ups. We create opportunities for collaboration across communities and connect those that might not traditionally work in national security. Together, we help drive national security innovation and develop technologies that directly support the individuals responsible for protecting our country.