Lipinski Adds Amendment to Defense Bill Expanding Innovative Program that Boosts National Security

Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3) successfully added an amendment to the FY18 Defense Bill that will expand an innovative program developed in Silicon Valley that solves national security problems and makes America safer.  Lipinski’s amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act authorizes the Hacking for Defense (H4D) program and enables the Secretary of Defense to expend up to $15 million to support development of curriculum, best practices, and recruitment materials for the program.  The bill passed the House today. 

H4D combines the problem-solving techniques learned by members of the military in the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan with Silicon Valley lean business startup methods to teach students how to solve national security challenges.  The program is a partnership between the Department of Defense (DOD), universities, and private companies who provide business mentoring and support.  They also heavily recruit veterans to participate, which allows them to apply their battlefield knowledge to problem solving. 

One of H4D’s success stories was recently highlighted in the New York Times.  Capella Space, a startup satellite imaging company that grew out of the first H4D cohort, developed a much more effective and less expensive method for tracking North Korean missile launches.

“Rapid, low-cost technological innovation is what makes Silicon Valley revolutionary, but the DOD hasn't historically had the mechanisms in place to harness this American advantage,” stated Lipinski on the House floor.  “Hacking for Defense creates ways for talented scientists and engineers to work alongside veterans, military leaders, and business mentors to innovate solutions that make America safer.” 

H4D is modeled after the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program, which has been teaching scientists and engineers the skills they need to turn their discoveries into commercial products since 2011.  As the top Democrat on the Research and Technology Subcommittee of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, Congressman Lipinski was an early supporter of the I-Corps program and was responsible for helping it proliferate through the federal government.  It has changed how federally funded research is commercialized.  

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