JUST IN: Pentagon to Kick Off First ‘Trusted Capital Marketplace’ Event

By Jon Harper
DJI Quadcopter

Photo: iStock

Next month the Defense Department will co-host the first event associated with its Trusted Capital Marketplace initiative, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer announced Oct. 18.

The program, also known as TCM, was approved earlier this year. It stemmed from a provision in Section 1711 of the fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act tasking the Pentagon to establish a pilot program that supports small and medium-sized companies that manufacture emerging defense and commercial technologies.

“This is a public-private partnership that will convene trusted sources of private capital with innovative companies critical to the defense industrial base and national security,” Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord said during a press briefing at the Pentagon.

The effort is an attempt to bolster the U.S. defense industrial base and protect the supply chain by linking up vetted venture capitalists with startups and other high-tech businesses that need a cash infusion.

The first “trusted capital” event will take place Nov. 13 at Texas A&M University, which is co-hosting it alongside the Defense Department, Lord said. The technology focus will be small unmanned aerial systems and counter-drone capabilities.

The university is also setting up a website for interested parties to submit applications to participate, she noted. It is expected to go live in the coming days.

The website will address frequently asked questions “so that industry can understand and engage in this public-private partnership on the Trusted Capital Marketplace program,” Lord said.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Policy Jennifer Santos is the U.S. government lead for the event.

“We will have, I think, about 75 slots open for industry and then slots open for capital providers,” Lord said. “It will be on a first-come, first-serve basis.”

The initiative is partly aimed at countering China, which the 2018 national defense strategy identified as a great power competitor and a top threat to national security.

The Pentagon has had to issue waivers to allow the U.S. military to use Chinese-made drones for target practice, Lord noted.

“The reason that we write some waivers for these is to have them used on ranges in highly controlled conditions to test our counter-UAS capability,” she said.

“Because of the Chinese flooding the market with low-priced DJI drones, for instance, our industrial base has eroded,” she added. “We do not have much capability. That's why our first Trusted Capital Marketplace focus area is the small UAS market to try to bring that back.”

Future TCM events will focus on communications capabilities, such as 5G, and “variety of others,” Lord said.

Topics: Emerging Technologies, Defense Department

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