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Big government courts small startups

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Janet Gaines
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"In order to remain the ... best Air Force on the planet, we have to be constantly innovating, and particularly when it comes to high-technology solutions, we've got to speed it up," Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James said in April during her second visit to Silicon Valley in four months.

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The Department of Defense runs a similar program geared toward Silicon Valley startups, and Secretary of Defense Ash Carter beefed it up last month.

"There's just a general movement that you can feel," said Meagan Metzger, founder of Washington, D.C.-based accelerator Dcode42, which focuses on helping startups win government business.

The federal government has long had its hand in emerging Silicon Valley technologies -- it was the DOD's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency DARPA that helped bring us a little thing known as the internet and that is credited with jump-starting the self-driving car movement in the early 2000s.

Kuang Chen, CEO and co-founder of Oakland company Captricity, said he's been trying for years to help the Department of Veterans Affairs clear its notorious backlog of veteran disability claims.

Contact her at 408-920-5009 and follow her at Twitter.com/marisakendall.

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