The Defense Entrepreneurs Forum is proud to announce that the torch has been lit for the inaugural class of Firestarter fellows!

After an incredibly competitive set of applications and deliberations by an all-star board of judges, the following three individuals will become DEF’s first Firestarters:

Josh Lospinoso, an Army Captain, works for US Army Cyber Command as a technical director, where he mentors other developers and writes infosec tools used in cyber operations around the globe. He holds a PhD from the University of Oxford and is a Rhodes Scholar. His Firestarter mission is to lead a mentorship program for coders and programmers throughout the Department of Defense.



Christopher Knutson is an Air Force officer stationed in Maryland, focusing on the intersection of additive manufacturing and national security.  Prior to his assignment in Maryland, he led IT-related projects in South Korea.  Outside of work, he leads development of a global event intelligence dashboard, intended to help decision makers visualize complexity in a highly interconnected world.  His passions include vintage car restoration, geopolitics, long distance running, travel, teaching, and classical music.  He is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and is currently pursuing a Masters of Engineering in Additive Manufacturing and Design at Pennsylvania State University. His Firestarter mission is to develop a negotiation skills program within the DEF community.

Richard Kuzma is a naval officer and Master in Public Policy candidate at Harvard Kennedy School. He is writing his thesis on how DoD adapts to artificial intelligence. He works on that adaptation at Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) in the Machine Learning / Artificial Intelligence Portfolio, where he also facilitates a cohort of Boston-area military graduate students in supporting warfighter needs. He’s passionate about bridging the technologist-policymaker divide, Tom Clancy novels, and having at least one cup at every coffee shop in Cambridge before he moves to San Diego. His Firestarter mission is to organize a machine learning self-study program for the DEF community.

Each Firestarter will receive funding towards their proposal. Additionally, you can expect to see and hear from them on social media, in print, and at this year’s DEF annual conference! If you would like to collaborate with or amplify the missions of our first cohort of followers, contact the Firestarter team leader.

The first round of Firestarter missions are just beginning, but the next round is coming soon! Applications for the second round of Firestarters will open in late April. 

Congratulations to Josh, Christopher, and Richard, and a big thank you to all who told us their story for Firestarter round one. Stay tuned for more from our Firestarters, and keep that spark alive!

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