Defense Department, Silicon Valley create new tech partnership

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (KGO) -- Your tax dollars are going into a new partnership that will have Silicon Valley companies and universities helping to solve problems for the nation's defense.

It will also create thousands of new manufacturing jobs.

Bringing these jobs back to the Silicon Valley is part of this initiative. The Flex-Tech Alliance is going to be headquartered in San Jose. The big news is how the Defense Department is trying to tap into and help to support a new technology.

In a way, the Defense Department is using its money to be a kind of marriage broker. It's trying to find high-tech solutions to problems and an alliance of 96 private companies, 41 universities and others will work on them.

The challenge is to develop and manufacture very thin chips and backing material for a wide range of applications.

Some will be so thin and flexible, it can even be wrapped around a tiny catheter and inserted in a vein.

"Flexible means it's soft. It means that it can be thread up through without causing any potential damage along the way," Binghampton UIniversity's Dr. Mark Poliks said.

The Department of Defense is contributing $75 million. There will be $96 million coming from private tech companies, including Apple, HP and Applied Materials.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter is hoping to usher in a new era of cooperation in which Silicon Valley can help bolster National Defense issues.

"We're drilling tunnels through that wall that sometimes seems to separate government from scientists and commercial technologists, making it more permeable so more of America's greatest minds can contribute to our mission of national defense, even if only for a time," Carter said.

Development is already underway for electronic leaflets that the military can drop over populated areas with audible messages recorded in the native language - sort of like talking greeting cards but very thin.

"The leaflet includes all of the electronics, including an audio chip, batteries and a very thin, flexible speaker," Molex Development Engineer David King said.

A manufacturing plant is also part of the plan that will create hundreds of jobs.
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