From Tanks to Teleportation: Defense Innovation Unit Partners on Podcast About National Security and Commercial Tech

The ten-episode series hosted by Dallas-native DIU Texas Lead Zach Walker and founding_media's Dan Dillard explores the intersection of technology, business, and national security.

A new podcast called From Tanks to Teleportation gives listeners the chance to explore the Defense Innovation Unit’s (DIU) work as an organization accelerating commercial technology into the United States military, which is also one of the first “experimental” innovation organizations.

The podcast will be delving into new trends in commercial technologies and national security challenges throughout its 10 episodes. The podcast series made its debut in June and will continue to release episodes through DIU’s fifth anniversary in August, according to a statement.

Dallas-native DIU Texas Lead Zach Walker and founding_media’s Dan Dillard will be hosting the bi-weekly podcast with topics including DIU’s mission, their perspective on national security, and the perspectives of investors, companies, and Department of Defense (DoD) partners, according to a statement. The DIU is part of the U.S. Department of Defense and its efforts to grow the U.S. innovation base.

An episode will be released every other Thursday, with episode three coming out on July 16. The next episode is set to drop on July 30.

Listeners will get the chance to expand their knowledge about the DoD in a way that breaks down barriers to entry in the tech sector, according to a statement. In addition, companies will be able to explore ways to tackle national security problems, while also receiving a wide range of access to large volume defense contracts.

“This process can be a game-changing event for many companies,” Walker said. “A DIU award, while driving further research and development for a company, often attracts additional private investment funding for that company. This in turn benefits the government, by providing us the best commercial technology.”

Industry experts including August Cole, an author and national security expert; Steve Wert, Air Force Program Executive Office Digital; and Rachel Kolesnikov-Lindsey, DIU Director of Organizational Development will have conversations on the podcast on DIU’s five technological areas. These areas stretch from topics like AI and autonomy to cyber, human systems, and space, according to a statement.

“It has been great to explore the intersection of technology and national security with a wide range of experts,” Walker said. “We started this podcast because what a lot of people think of as the future, we’re already doing for the military through DIU. One of the great things we’re exploring in From Tanks to Teleportation is how everyone has a role to play in national security.”

The goal of the podcast is to be able to unite companies across the country in an effort to mend the disconnect between DoD’s relationship with the commercial technology sector, according to a statement. DIU is also working to find a way to connect commercial companies to their potential partners in order to build a knowledgeable and supportive community amidst the pandemic.

The DIU’s Texas office is located in Austin and serves the entire state and nation, according to a spokesman. The DIU heavily leverages military reservists who contribute their skills to DIU part-time while working full-time in industry. One such Navy reservist, Clif Colbert, is an executive at JP Morgan who regularly holds office hours at Capital Factory’s Dallas office.

The DIU has participated in a variety of roundtables and events in the DFW area over the past year, it says, thanks to the region’s position “at the intersection of the Fortune 100 in Dallas and the nation’s defense aerospace industry near Fort Worth,” the spokesman said. Host Walker himself is from a Dallas suburb and went to college in Dallas-Fort Worth.

“COVID-19 has pushed DIU to try new mechanisms to connect with commercial companies and to a broader number of potential DoD partners,” Mike Madsen, director of strategic engagement for DIU, said. “Our podcast is an opportunity, in our partner’s words, to explain the dissonance between the commercial world and government, successes in improving this relationship, and what still needs to be accomplished to maintain our national and economic security.”

You can check out the podcast here, as well as on Apple, iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, and Stitcher.

The story was updated with additional details about the DIU and its ties to Dallas-Fort Worth on July 17, 2020 at 10:40 a.m. Host Zach Walker is a Dallas native living in Austin.

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