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Silicon Valley/Venture Capitalists Involved in AUKUS Submarine Deal

The financial part of the military-financial complex is getting deeply involved in AUKUS, the Australia-U.K.-U.S. deal to provide nuclear powered attack submarines to the Australian navy. The journal C4ISRNET reported yesterday that the “innovation advisory firm” BMNT has announced the AUKUS Defense Investor Network, or DIN. The group, which represents about $265 billion in venture capital, brings together existing investor networks in the three countries with a goal of increasing funding for national security innovation.

Heather Richman, who chairs the existing U.S. DIN and is a co-chair of the new AUKUS group, told C4ISRNET that the network is designed to give investors a chance to ask questions, share challenges and better understand the technology needs within the national security community. Meetings will also feature discussions with defense officials from the three countries. A November 2021 story in Yahoo News reported on the U.S. DIN, that it “connects senior officials from the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence agencies with venture capital firms and startups doing work with national security applications.”

Among other things, Richman highlighted Britain’s success establishing public-private partnerships through its National Security Strategic Investment Fund, which invests in commercial firms developing advanced technology. “They have proven that you can take private dollars and public dollars and put them into an entity and successfully invest,” she said. “Our government and our military and our private sector have not come to that point.”

While early AUKUS DIN meetings will likely provide a venue for broader questions about the security pact and the specifics of Pillar II, Richman expects the group to also tackle policy concerns and work to create opportunities for more free-flowing discussions between private investors and the military about technology priorities. However, she apparently didn’t mention any policy specifics.

Bloomberg News reported on Jan. 8 that National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan convened a meeting with more than a dozen companies in the defense, tech and venture capital industries, to talk about how the U.S. might be able to provide additional assistance to the Kiev regime, according to administration officials, speaking on condition of anonymity. The firms represented included Palantir Technologies, Anduril Industries, Fortem and Skydio, among others. The group reportedly discussed de-mining technologies, unmanned aerial systems, and other products to counter Russian use of drones and other weapons systems. The goal, officials said, is to ready the U.S. defense industrial base for both Kyiv’s immediate needs and any future conflicts or crucial areas. Though not mentioned in the Bloomberg story, there is likely to be overlap between the Defense Investor Network and the companies that Sullivan met with.