University of Texas
09-14-2017 - 18:00:00
AT&T Center at the University of Texas - Austin
Austin, TX


The DEF leadership team is proud to announce that the 2017 annual conference will be held at the University of Texas at Austin on September 14-17. Austin sits at the intersection of defense and innovation, and we can think of no better place to convene 150 of the brightest and most creative minds. Will you be there? 

Reserve your ticket and book your hotel now. See the complete schedule of events here.

Hear from prominent innovators and changemakers in the defense world such as Admiral (ret.) Bobby Inman, Sergeant Jon GillisLieutenant Commander B.J. Armstrong, and Ori Brafman. Learn practical skills for your career in our breakout sessions, and participate in our annual Innovation Competition in partnership with MD5.

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Celebrating 5 years of building a community of defense innovators

50% of startups fail within 5 years. Achieving this 5 year milestone is beyond important - it's celebration worthy. DEF has thrived thanks to our passionate members like you!

Since inception, DEF has grown far beyond what the founding team ever expected or imagined. As a startup social enterprise, we're incredibly excited to celebrate this milestone and the impact that DEF has had in national security through changing the culture and disrupting bureaucracy.

Conference Details

DEF is an organization that is constantly in beta. We ideate, test, fail, learn, and iterate with each new conference. How else would we be the center of the national security innovation ecosystem if we didn't fail occasionally?

Kick-Off Happy Hour: This year, we're officially starting the conference on Thursday evening over food and drinks. We got tremendous feedback about the Thursday happy hour in Chicago in 2016, and so we are making it an integral part of this year's conference.

Innovation Competition: For 2017, we're partnering with MD5 to make our Innovation Competition better than ever. Click here for the details. We're also moving the competition to Friday evening so that we can showcase the projects earlier and foster greater networking opportunities.

Choose Your Persona: Are you an intrapreneur, a founder, or an innovation driver? We've organized our breakout sessions to align with these three profiles and how they fit with your individual goals:

  • Intrapreneur: You're supporting a culture of innovation from within the bureaucracy. Whether in uniform or civilian service, you are passionate about improving the national security enterprise from the inside.
  • Founder: Launching a venture to solve a national security challenge? Struggling to find funding, mentors, or allies to support your project? Or maybe you're still in the idea stage and you need help crystalizing your core concept. DEF is your greatest resource because we connect centers of excellence and catalyze rapid action.
  • Innovation Driver: Innovation doesn't only come from startups - some of the most innovative companies are enterprises with +300k employees. Firms like Google and Amazon have deep interests in national security (take a look at who's on the Defense Innovation Board). Leading national security innovation can come from the outside, especially as we leverage commercial products and solutions for new purposes. DEF is the forum where we connect outsiders to their peers and to the decision-makers that lead to sustainable changes.


The AT&T Center at the University of Texas is a singular destination for conferences and we strongly encourage all attendees to stay there for the most convenient weekend experience. We have reserved a block of rooms for $189/night that can be booked online.

Please note that the discounted rate only applies to the dates underlined in orange on the reservation calendar (Thu, Fri, Sat).

If you experience issues, please call the hotel reservation desk at 512-404-3600.

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Interested in sponsoring DEF? Our annual conference is a truly unique opportunity to connect with some of the most talented and passionate professionals in national security who are thinking differently about how we do business. Contact us and we'll send you a copy of our prospectus to begin creating a tailored sponsorship package.


Thanks to the incredible support from the Clements Center for National Security, MD5, Galvanize, BMNT Partners, The Army Junior Officer ForumGE Digital, Bell Helicopter, and IronGate Capital Advisors, this year's annual conference is shaping up to be better than ever. We're proud to partner with the Clements Center at the University of Texas at Austin to host this year's annual conference.

Clements Center

IronGate Capital Advisors       Bell Helicopter


GE Digital          MD5         BMNT Partners

Galvanize Austin   Junior Officer Forum