University of Texas
09-15-2017 - 09:00:00
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 from September 14th-17th! 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?


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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. We're changing the culture and disrupting the bureaucracy. Join us in Austin in September!

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. We're also moving it earlier in the conference so that we can showcase these amazing projects earlier and create more opportunities for networking.

Choose Your Persona: Are you an intrapreneur, a founder, or an innovation driver? We've organized our breakouts to align with these three profiles and your 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 by clicking here.

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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, this year's annual conference is shaping up to be better than ever. We're incredibly proud to partner with the Clements Center to host this year's annual conference.

Clements Center