Defense Innovation & Contracting: The Defense Leadership Forum Holds Summit at the University of Maryland

By Warren Woodberry Jr.

If you’re an i-phone user you’ve probably said to yourself a few times, ‘How did I ever get around before without Maps?’ Being able to ask Siri for travel directions gives many of us little reason to know how to get around, especially when uncomfortable asking others for directions.

While Siri knows exactly where to go and how long it will take, what you probably didn’t know is that applications for Siri and Global Positioning System (GPS) are among some 15 products on i-phone designed by start-up companies that received federal defense funding. Long before such technology is shared with the mass market, some of it is first thought up for our nation’s military to better protect our country and allies.

The Defense Leadership Forum recently hosted its 2018 Defense Innovation & Contracting Summit at the University of Maryland, Marriott Hotel & Conference Center. The event brings together government and private business under one roof for a series of seminars and networking mixers. The US Department of Defense (DOD) is always looking for the next big thing and to stay on top of technology by looking to private and small business that can help make it happen.

“We have so many threats from China, Russia, Isis and so many bad players, the DOD is looking for the latest innovations so we can be ahead of our competitors,” said William S. Loiry, Forum Chairman. “Our goal is to help companies get the defense contracts and to help the DOD identify the latest innovation solutions.”

The Defense Leadership Forum is a public service organization that brings together Congressional leaders, Pentagon officials, military base commanders, and business representatives to identify the best solutions to defend the United States.

The Forum aims to bring leaders together, to empower solutions by transitioning technology into the government sector.

Business and government were partnered in an actual matchmaking session, much like speed dating, where businesses took turns sitting at tables across from agency representatives every 7 minutes to make quick introductions and pitches.

“It is an opportunity for one-on-one direct conversation,” said Lana Corrigan Forum Executive Vice-President.

About 150 attendees registered for the two-day summit. The affair was small and intimate which many said they welcomed because it allowed them to make solid connections with greater talk time. Forum speakers included dozens of seasoned experts who informed attendees of opportunities and procedures for business with the government.

“We’re here to partner, here to support and educate our industry partners,” said Nikkia Henderson, General Services Administration (GSA) National Account Manager for Customer and Stakeholder Engagement.

Among topics discussed were cyber, blockchain, artificial intelligence, defense cloud and satellite technologies. Business members discussed their capabilities and ideal work situations with clients. Also discussed was how to get funding once a company secures a contract. Representatives for NASA, BAE, Lockheed-Martin, Air Force, and other entities were present.

“What we are trying to do is help the DOD understand innovation,” said Summit Moderator Howard Snow PhD-ABD, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy.

The Summit’s keynote speaker was Rear Admiral Danelle Barrett, Navy Cyber Security Division Director, US Navy. In her talk, she mentioned that many people are presently uncomfortable with the idea of autonomous cars on our nation’s roads, but said children born today will not be driving or buying cars in the future.

Barrett went onto say, what is happening with technology today sounds far out, but it will help lead to a better tomorrow just as innovations in smart phone technology has improved and saved lives.

Barrett said, “You’ve got to get uncomfortable because that is the way the world is working.”

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