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Pentagon Funding $75 Million Silicon Valley Tech Venture

The Department of Defense (DOD) has awarded a $75 million grant to a consortium of Silicon Valley tech companies to develop advances in flexible electronics. The DOD wants to use this technology to improve and innovate wearable electronics, implants for combat and medical uses, and improving sensors for military use.

The consortium of 162 businesses, non-profits and universities has been established as the Flexible Hybrid Electronic Institute and will be managed by Flex Tech Alliance. It includes companies and organizations like Corning, Micro Chem and Northeastern University, among others. The Flex Tech Alliance is based in San Jose, Calif. Sam Liccardo, mayor of San Jose, released a statement about the grant.

The Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Institute will accelerate growth of companies and good jobs in San Jose. This decision affirms our role as a global hub for innovation advancing the Internet of Things.

Ashton Carter, the current Secretary of Defense, was in San Jose to announce the formation of the Flexible Hybrid Electronic Institute and describe what the Pentagon was hoping to get out of the program.

Given what we’ve already done, there’s truly no limit to what we can achieve together. That’s why I’ve been pushing the Pentagon to think outside our five-sided box, and invest in innovation here in Silicon Valley and in tech communities across the country. And now we’re taking another step forward.

The DOD has traditionally looked inward for technical innovation. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has been used as a bridge between the military and technological companies since its inception in 1958. Although the Flex Tech grant is not the first time that the DOD has stepped outside of its traditional procurement procedure, Ashton Carter is the first Secretary of Defense to visit Silicon Valley in over two decades.

We’re drilling tunnels through that wall that separates government from scientists and commercial technologists — making it more permeable so more of America’s brightest minds can contribute to our mission of national defense, even if only for a time.

The flexible hybrid electronics manufacturing process will, according to the Pentagon, create lightweight sensors that conform to the shape of the object or person that they are applied to. They are light and flexible enough to be woven into fabric, adaptable enough to be applied to ships, planes, tanks and people and can generate enough information to make a difference in today’s battlefield.

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