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University of Washington, National Security Innovation Network partner for innovation, entrepreneurship, solving complex problems

Written by Debra Bouchegnies / October 26, 2020

Newly appointed University Program Director will bring together defense, academia and entrepreneurs expanding opportunities for students and faculty with new programs

Justin Dunnicliff, NSIN University Program Director, University of Washington

The National Security Innovation Network (NSIN), a program office within the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), has appointed Justin Dunnicliff as a full-time university program director at the University of Washington (UW). NSIN brings together defense personnel, academia, and entrepreneurs to tackle national security problems in new and innovative ways. This is the first NSIN appointment in the greater Pacific Northwest, a region that includes Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska.

Dunnicliff will be located within CoMotion at the University of Washington where he will work closely with faculty, students, industry stakeholders and innovators to build collaborations and partnerships that help solve DoD challenges in communications, data management, artificial intelligence, logistics, disaster relief, healthcare, and other priority areas. He will report to leadership both at CoMotion and at the National Security Innovation Network in Washington, D.C.

“UW has enormous strengths in many areas relevant to DoD priorities,” UW Vice Provost for Innovation and CoMotion Director François Baneyx said. “The appointment of Justin and a formal relationship with NSIN will enhance the ability of our faculty to conduct research with the DoD, provide new learning opportunities for our students, and strengthen the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem by engaging innovators across the Pacific Northwest.”

Dunnicliff plans to deploy programs such as Hacking for Defense, which challenges teams of students to develop minimum viable products addressing real-world defense and national security problems, and Starts, a platform for early-stage companies to showcase their technology to potential DoD customers, mentors, and private investors. Students will also be able to pursue employment opportunities through NSIN’s Hirethon program.

NSIN has university program directors on the campuses of nine research universities including the University of Virginia, the University of Colorado-Boulder, Arizona State University, the University of California-Berkeley and Washington University in St. Louis.

Dunnicliff, who graduated from UW in ’06 with a degree in Law, Societies, and Justice, has been part of the DoD since 2013. He has been a member of NSIN since its inception and played an important role in its early development. As such, he brings a depth of experience to this new role.

“The University of Washington is unquestionably one of the premier research institutions in the world and I see many opportunities for collaboration,” said Dunnicliff. “As a UW alumnus, I am particularly excited to bring the full spectrum of NSIN programming to the University and to work alongside UW faculty and students to address key national security challenges.”

About the NSIN

The National Security Innovation Network mission is to “build networks of innovators that generate new solutions to national security problems.” National Security Innovation Network is headquartered in Arlington, Va., and has regional offices in 11 commercial innovation hubs throughout the United States. Through its headquarters, regional hubs and embedded university partnerships, the National Security Innovation Network builds a national network of innovators and delivers programming that solves real-world, Department of Defense problems through collaborative partnerships with nontraditional problem solvers within the academic and early-stage venture communities.

About the University of Washington and CoMotion

Ranked by Reuters as the #1 most innovative public university in the world, the University of Washington is a leading recipient of federal funding research, producing innovations that have the power to change the world.

CoMotion at the University of Washington partners with the UW community on their innovation journey, providing tools, connections, and acumen to transform ideas into economic and societal impact. Find more information at


Donna O’Neill

Marketing & Communications

CoMotion at the University of Washington

p: 206.685.9972