The XS 1 spaceplane concept
The Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (Darpa) is another research agency that works for the US militaryDarpa

The Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) enlists start-ups and small firms to find solutions for the military's pressing tech-related problems.

Their work is focused on five areas of study – artificial intelligence, information technology, drones and other unmanned vehicles, and space and life sciences, according to a report by the Associated Press.

This Silicon Valley firm handles roughly 45 projects and has a staff of around 45 members who are a mix of civilian and military personnel, and has so far awarded $100m (£77m) in government contracts, notes the report.

Such investments, however, are considered to be modest because a substantial part of the funding is reportedly being handled by private companies who have pumped over $2bn (£1.5bn) into firms that DIUx has partnered with.

A major portion of the contracts have also been reportedly steered away from large, traditional military contractors like Lockheed Martin, Boeing or Raytheon.

However, according to the Associated Press, there is a debate about whether DIUx as an agency is even required at this time as it approaches its two-year mark and is up for review and funding.

US Rep. Mac Thornberry from Texas, for example, is reportedly "not convinced" that DIUx is a long-term solution. "This is a good and important initiative, but we don't want this to grow to be some gigantic bureaucracy," Thornberry said in a statement made earlier this month.

"This question is: What is this office doing that's different from what others are doing?" he reasoned.

The report also mentioned a supporter of the DIUx, Col. Michael McGinley, who heads DIUx's office in Cambridge near the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). McGinley spoke about the number of projects that have been handled in "a relatively short amount of time and with minimal taxpayer investment."

"This is changing the game in the way (the Department of Defense) operates and acquires new technology to support the war-fighter," he said. "We're not vapourware. We're producing tangible results," McGinley added.

It has also been reported that DIUx is favoured by US President Donald Trump and that he will be sending his Secretary of Defense Gen. James Mattis for meetings at the DIUx offices in Mountain View, California.

On the other hand, the US Congress seems to be reluctant to invest in this effort because DIUx, during its launch, was given $20m (£15.4m) and in the next year, it reportedly got only $10m (£7.7m) in funds.

The firm is now reportedly looking for a $30m (£23m) boost in funding for the following financial year, according to a DIUx spokesperson.