Image of those who attended
10-07-2016 - 09:00:00
Gleacher Center at the University of Chicago - Booth School of Business
450 N Cityfront Plaza Dr., Chicago, IL 60611

Our annual 3-day conference is simply unlike anything else. Unlike traditional conferences, our participants are the focus and their ideas take center stage. For three days, we mix together short TED-style plenary talks, exciting hack-a-thon workshops, and transformative discovery activities to inspire, connect, and empower a new generation of innovative defense leaders.

Purchase your tickets through EventBrite here.


**UPDATE** Hotel Block Details

We have reserved a block of 25 rooms at $249/night at the Hard Rock Hotel.

  • To book online, click here.
  • To book over the phone, use booking code DEFOCT16.



You are a emerging leader brimming with ideas, and are eager to connect with others who share your enthusiasm.  You are passionate about creating positive change, but are still learning how to push ideas through a large bureaucracy. You want to build lifelong relationships with innovative leaders both in and out of uniform.

DEF 2016 is for you! Learn from experienced entrepreneurs, propose ideas and collaborate with peers in our Ideation groups, then pitch solutions to peers, senior leaders and proven entrepreneurs. You’ll emerge with knowledge, experience, and relationships to help spread an innovative culture throughout the Department of Defense.

  • Have an idea or project to share? Tell us about it and be a TED-style presenter during Friday or Saturday.
  • Looking to get funding or senior leader support for a new project? Consider competing in our annual innovation competition. This is your chance to get the support to launch your new project forward.


You are a busy senior leader, managing complex challenges during an era of change, uncertainty, and restraint. Every day, you are asked to do more with less. By necessity, you are constantly on the lookout for innovative solutions to address current and emerging challenges.

Our Ideation groups will study problems and develop promising new solutions, putting more options into your hands as a senior leader. You’ll be surrounded by young innovators who are passionate to make our military a stronger organization. We invite you to get involved by mentoring emerging leaders, suggesting problems to be tackled, and listening to what our young leaders have to offer.

Sound like you? Submit a working group topic here.


We are looking to enter into and cultivate mutually beneficial partnerships that could benefit all parties involved.  If you think you or your organization may be interested in learning more about finding synergy with DEF, please contact us.


  • Breakfast Buffet and All-Day Coffee
  • Registration
  • Opening Remarks
  • Plenary Speakers
  • Catered Lunch
  • Discovery Activities
  • Breakout Sessions (Choice of 4 Options)
  • Keynote Speakers
  • Closing Remarks
  • Happy Hour (Venue TBD)
  • Breakfast Buffet and All-Day Coffee
  • Discovery Activity
  • Plenary Speakers
  • Case Studies
  • Keynote Speaker
  • Catered Lunch
  • Breakout Sessions (Choice of 4 Options)
  • Closing Remarks
  • Happy Hour (Venue TBD)


  • Breakfast and coffee

  • Innovation Competition

  • Discovery Activity

  • Closing Remarks

  • Lunch





  • Peter Barkley, USN - Case Study: Winner of the DEF2015 Innovation Competition

  • Ryan Evans, War on the Rocks - Case Study: A Startup Founder 3 Years In

  • Kristen Hajduk, CSIS - Case Study: #NoExceptions

  • Kevin Kenny, USAF - Case Study: The F5 Report

  • John Gillis, USMC - Plenary Pitch

  • Miriam Krieger, USAF - Plenary Pitch

  • Chris O'Keefe, USN - Plenary Pitch

  • Cory Harrison, Defense Digital Services - Panelist

  • Lauren Schmidt, DIUx - Panelist

  • Graham Plaster - Panel Moderator

  • Josh Marcuse, DOD - Panelist

  • LtGen. Michael Dana, USMC - Keynote: Innovating within the Marine Corps

  • Matthew Von Ertfelda, Vice President & Global Team Lead, Insight, Strategy and Innovation Team, Marriott - Keynote: Leading Intrapreneurship

  • Steven Koltai, Brookings, author of "Peace Through Entrepreneurship": Creating a Startup Culture for Development and Security


Friday Breakouts

  • Peter Newell, BMNT Partners (USA, Ret.) - Breakout: Applying Lean to the DoD
  • Josh Pavluk and Bret Perry, Avascent - Leading Organizational Change
  • Bryan Shu and Mike Michalak - Breakout: Raspberry Pi
  • Rich Walsh and John Hawley, USN - Breakout: High Velocity Learning
  • Tyson Weinert, Luma Institute (USCG, Ret.) - Breakout: Design Thinking


Saturday Breakouts

  • Talent Management for Army Cyber Branch
  • A New Strategic Model for DoD
  • The Military Professional Organization is Dead
  • Lean Design: The Egg Drop Challenge


Plus others and our annual pitch competition




The Atlantic Council promotes constructive leadership and engagement in international affairs based on the Atlantic Community's central role in meeting global challenges. The Council provides an essential forum for navigating the dramatic economic and political changes defining the twenty-first century by informing and galvanizing its uniquely influential network of global leaders. Through the papers we write, the ideas we generate, and the communities we build, the Council shapes policy choices and strategies to create a more secure and prosperous world.



The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation advances the knowledge and practice of entrepreneurship and innovation through a broad range of activities, including academics, research, conferences, competitions, and global and community outreach. The Polsky Center is the foremost resource for University of Chicago students and alumni as they pursue entrepreneurial endeavors and private equity careers.

Pearson Harris

The Pearson Institute and the Harris School of Public Policy, fill a critical gap in identifying new strategies rooted in innovative, data-driven research approaches that transform how we understand and reduce global conflicts. Its mission advances three main areas: (1) research to understand, prevent and resolve violent conflicts; (2) engagement by annually convening the international policy and academic community to recognize new data-driven approaches to policies that reduce global conflicts; and (3) education for the next generation of scholars and practitioners through new courses and programs, all designed to help resolve conflicts and inform more effective policies.
Founded one year ago, the Institute has named its first Academic Director, James Robinson, appointed new faculty members, and welcomed its first class of fellows this fall. The Institute continues to grow, develop partnerships, and connect with defense innovators. We are excited to support the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum, and to share ideas about how we create more effective defense policy and organizations. Pearson is like a startup, refining its position in the policy marketplace, and learning how we can make the greatest impact.



DEFxDC 2016
DEFxDC 2016
DEFxDC 2016