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DOD’s Barbara McQuiston, Stefanie Tompkins on Prioritizing Partnerships to Drive Innovation

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Barbara McQuiston, acting undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, said the Department of Defense (DoD) must “innovate at speed and scale” to retain leadership in emerging technologies, DOD News reported Tuesday,

McQuiston told members of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee that the DOD must identify “flexible opportunities” with academic and industry entities including small businesses and historically black colleges and universities. 

According to McQuiston, the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) has been making progress in keeping pace with industry on technology development. 

The agency currently has 189 companies under contract, she said. Seventy-five percent of these contractors are small businesses while 32 percent are working with the government for the first time, she added.

Stefanie Tompkins, director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), also noted that the agency has been collaborating with the private sector and academia in transition technologies such as unmanned aerial vehicles and precision weapons for over 60 years. 

"Presenting a credible deterrent to potential adversaries requires us to develop and field emerging technologies," said McQuiston. “We must reinvigorate our federal research capabilities, elevate science, promote technology and expand partnerships with our allies."