Defense Innovation Unit Programming at SXSW 2023 Conference


Collaboration between industry, government and academia here in the U.S and around of the world will be a focus this year’s SXSW 

Government and industry partnerships and collaboration are key to how the United States can prepare for emergent crises and the defense of democracy, today and tomorrow.

The Department of Defense (DoD) and our government partners will share how we are working to streamline processes, collaborate and  rapidly deliver capabilities. Public-private partnerships are a critical element by developing a talent pipeline that could impact both the DoD and the tech sector.

Austin continues to be an important hub with a presence from nearly every DoD  organization. In addition, Austin and SXSW provide unique opportunities and events to meet with start-ups, accelerators, the military, and universities. The co-investment of DoD, Texas, Austin, and tech sector companies is a unique way to demonstrate a new model for Federal, state and local partnerships.

The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), the only DoD organization that is focused on accelerating commercial technology, will participate in and attend a number of events from March 10-13, to highlight opportunities to work with the Department in the key areas of AI, autonomy, cyber/telecom energy, human systems and space. DIU lowers barriers to entry when it comes to working with the Department of Defense, helping to make the DoD a better, more sophisticated partner for small, nontraditional and first-time DoD vendors. 

Interested in attending? Here's an at-a-glance view at DIU programming and links to select other Defense related programming where DIU members plan to attend. For questions, reach out to info@diu.mil.

Friday, March 10:

Panel: Defending Tomorrow: Accelerating Change in Government and Military*

Where: Capital Factory, VOLTRON, 701 Brazos St. 

Leaders in military and government innovation join forces to explore the future of Defense. Engage with speakers from the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, Army Futures Command, DARPA, Capability Prototype Office (formerly RTTO), the Office of Strategic Capital, and SBA as they share their priorities for 2023 and beyond.

When: 9:00 - 13:00


  • Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall (virtual)

  • Dr. Timothy Grayson, Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force for Mission-Centered Analysis and Operational Imperatives

  • William Bailey, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Acquisition Integration, SAF/AQ

  • Maj Gen Daniel Devoe, Director, Integration and Innovation, Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategy, Integration and Requirements, Headquarters, USAF

  • Bailey DeVries, Associate Administrator for Investment and Innovation, Small Business Administration

  • Col Aneel "Cramden" Alvares, Director, Defense Engagement Team, Defense Innovation Unit

  • Cheryl Ingstad, Managing Director, National Security Innovation Network

  • Meredith Berger, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy, Installations and Environment/Chief Sustainability Officer)

  • Rob McHenry, Deputy Director, DARPA

  • Jon Lazar, Director, OSD Capability Prototypes

  • Young Bang, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology

*Capital Factory registration is not required for this event

Panel: DIU Fireside Chat

When: 11:40 - 12:00

Participants: Cheryl Ingstad, New NSIN Director; Aneel “Cramden” Alvarez, Director, Defense Engagement, Defense Innovation Unit

Location: Capital Factory, Voltron, First Floor

Register for Capital Factory Programming

Panel: From COVID to Cancer: Prediction & Prevention for Global Health

Where:  Austin Community College, Rio Grande Campus, ACC Collaboratorium Building 3000 (1218 West Ave) Main Stage (3rd Floor)

When: 13:00 - 14:00

How can the Government accelerate adoption of healthcare technology? What role can government play in adoption and implementation of the best commercial solutions?  This panel will feature stakeholders from both government and industry who can discuss both government’s role as well as how we can create public-private partnerships to build, test, and adopt solutions that implement the next generation of commercial solutions in government.

Moderator: Vishal Patel


  • Geoff Ling, CEO, OnDemand Pharmaceuticals

  • Renee Werzgyn, Director, Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health

  • Amanda Love, Joint Project Manager - Panacea, Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Defense

Register for SXSW @ ACC Programming

Panel: How Uncle Sam Helps Emerging Clean Energy

Where: Austin Community College, Rio Grande Campus, ACC Collaboratorium Building 3000 (1218 West Ave) Main Stage (3rd Floor)

When: 14:30 - 15:30

Like the rest of the world, the Department of Defense is entering into a profound period of change as they look to leverage breakthrough clean energy solutions to meet their bold climate goals. Each service will need to adapt their current technologies and harness new ones to help improve their energy efficiency, operational resiliency, and environmental sustainability. Come join us for a discussion on how the Department will play a unique role, not only as a future end user, but as a trusted industry partner that can assist with unique funding mechanisms and creative development arenas that will lead to the next generation of climate saving energy technologies as well as thousands of new American jobs.

Moderator: Mike Wu, Converge Strategies


  • Honorable Meredith Berger, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Installations, Energy and Environment

  • Paul Farnan, Principal Deputy, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy, and Environment

  • Andrew Higier, Acting Director Energy Portfolio, Defense Innovation Unit

Register for SXSW @ ACC Programming

Event: Digital Transformation as a Force Multiplier

Where: ACC Collaboratorium Building 3000 (1218 West Ave) Main Stage (3rd Floor)

When: 16:00 - 17:00

Digital transformation involves integrating digital technology into all areas of operations, which fundamentally changes how an organization operates and delivers value to customers. The military is undergoing a series of digital transformations that will dramatically change how it operates and delivers value to the nation and taxpayers. Whereas the private sector has become comfortable continually challenging the status quo, experimenting, and being comfortable with failure, the stakes are much higher in the military. Learn how industry and military leaders have leveraged digital transformation as a “force multiplier” to improve national security and the bottom line.


  • Joshua Bregler, Senior Security Manager, McKinsey Digital

  • Dr. Craig Martell, DoD Chief Digital and AI Officer

  • Lt Gen Matthew Glavy, Deputy Commandant for Information, US Marine Corps

  • Will Grannis, VP and CTO, Google Cloud

  • Featuring special guest Meagan Metzger, CEO, Dcode

Register for SXSW @ ACC Programming

Saturday, March 11

Event: DIU Office Hours*

Where: Capital Factory, 8th floor, Captain Marvel, 701 Brazos St. 

When: 9:00 - 13:30


  • Andrea Castillon, DIU Army Advisor;   Southern Regional Lead

  • Alex Goldberg,  DIU Joint Technology Acquisition Innovation Officer

  • Jack Ryan, DIU energy portfolio

  • Chris Mokrane, DIU acquisitions lead

Attend one-on-one meetings with DIU staff during SXSW office hours. This is an opportunity to engage with the Department of Defense, learn about our Commercial Solutions Opening, our 6 focus areas and how to best get engaged with the broader DoD community.

*No appointments are needed for the office hours, but we ask that you please RSVP so we can be prepared for your visit and questions.

Event: Growth, Defense, Healthcare and Tech. Finding Value in a Changing World

Location: The Eleanor (307 W 5th St)

When: 9:00 - 14:30

Register for RGP programming 

Event: Innovating Collaboration between Higher Ed and DoD

Where: ACC Collaboratorium Building 3000 (1218 West Ave) Main Stage (3rd Floor)

When: 11:30 - 12:30

Event: Small Business Innovation tapping into DOD Strategic Capital

Where: Capital Factory, 8th floor, AAL, 701 Brazos St.

When: 13:30 - 14:30

Come hear why DoD innovation branches need game changing small business dual-use tech to elevate the US military and the US economy. Unique funding capabilities from various organizations and the exciting new partnership between the new Office of Strategic Capitol and the Small Business Administration have been assembled to ensure DoD can break down barriers. The panel is dedicated to working together to ensure DoD takes full advantage of groundbreaking tech small businesses have the unique ability to deliver.    


  • Rob McHenry, Deputy Director, DARPA

  • Dr. Jason Rathje, Director, Office of Strategic Capital

  • Ray Gobberg, Director, Commercial Engagement, DIU

  • Michele Schimpp, Deputy Associate Administrator, SBA

  • Meg Vrabel - COO, Capital Factory

Register for Capital Factory Programming

Sunday, March 12

Panel: Growth, Defense, Healthcare and Tech: Finding Value in a Changing World

Where: Omni Shoreham Hotel, 700 San Jacinto St.

When: 9:00 - 14:00  

Event: Growth, Defense, Healthcare and Tech. Finding Value in a Changing World

Register for the Future of DoD Innovation Programming Sponsored by Valid Eval

Panel: Cracking the Code: Navigating the Defense Market as a Startup

The Department of Defense (DOD) has been actively seeking to engage more new industrial base partners, especially startups, but many tech companies still struggle to know where to start. Panelists including experienced entrepreneurs, investors, and government officials, will share their perspectives on the current state of the defense market, the key players and stakeholders, and the strategies and programs available for tech companies looking to break into the market. Attendees will leave with a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges of working with the DOD and the strategies for successfully navigating this complex market.

Where: Capital Factory, Captain America, 701 Brazos St.

When: 12:30 - 13:45


  • Ben McMartin, Managing Partner, Public Spend Forum


  • Dave Rothzeid, Vice President, Shield Capital (DIU alumni)

  • Trish Martinelli, Executive Director, Defense Entrepreneurs Forum

  • Justin Fanelli, Technical Director, Naval Information Warfare Center Atlantic

  • Erringer Helbling, Vice President, Altana Technologies (DIU alumni)

  • Chris Van Metre, President & CEO, Advanced Technology International

Register for Capital Factory Programming

Monday, March 13

Exhibition: Bots by the Bridge

Where:  Center for Autonomous Robotics Demos & Displays 5000 Plaza on the Lake

When: 10:00 - 15:00

Bots by the Bridge will highlight tomorrow’s tech where academia, emerging tech startups and venture capital are all collaborating to secure a better tomorrow. Participants will get a first look at new robotic technology at the Center for Autonomous Robotics (CAR). This outdoor lawn event showcases land, sea, and air technology in a family friendly experience featuring live demos, entertainment, food and beverage throughout the day. There will be featured demonstrations by LIFT Aircraft, Hylio, Gel Blaster, eve Vehicles, Hendrick Motorsports and many others.

Participants: 28 different vendors and organizations, including:

  • Stealth Power and Air Company, Tactical Vehicle Hybridization

  • sUAS Static Display (Defense Innovation Unit)

Register for Bots on the Bridge programming

Have additional questions? Email us at info@diu.mil. We look forward to connecting with you in Austin.