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The U.S. Department of Defense and New York University are co-hosting a disaster relief-focused hackathon in Brooklyn this weekend to draw attention to the agency’s new technology accelerator, MD5.

Described by the DoD as a partnership between the agency, NYU, and a “network of top U.S. research universities,” MD5 consists of training programs, hackathon events, and an “acceleration” program that (unlike most accelerators) does not provide funding in exchange for equity.

The program instead offers “tools, training, and access to DoD assets like infrastructure and intellectual property,” the DoD says.

The multi-armed MD5 was created to “solve our biggest national security challenges,” U.S. Air Force general Paul Selva said in a press release. It was founded last year but officially launched yesterday, and was named after “Pierre L’Enfant’s original districting of Washington DC, where the southernmost district was designated for the military — Military District 5,” a spokesperson for the initiative told VentureBeat. It was not named after the MD5 hash function (our first guess), which has known cryptographic vulnerabilities.


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The sort of public-private collaboration that gave rise to MD5 isn’t new — it’s credited with the creation of technologies like the internet and GPS, and it can been seen in the DoD’s wider strategy to recruit tech talent and advocate for partnerships in hubs like Silicon Valley.

Updated 4:52 p.m. PT with the origin of the MD5 name.

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