Defense Innovation for the Warfighter:

Introducing New Technology to the Defense Community

Do you have an innovation with national security applications? Interested in learning more about the innovation process, technology needs and funding opportunities with the US Department of Defense (DoD)?

Join the NDIA New England Chapter and the regional defense innovation community for an afternoon of panel discussions and networking at the Venture Café in Kendall Square.

Brought to the community by:


3:00 – 5:00 PM OFFICE HOURS
6:00 – 8:00 PM STARTUP DEMOS

This event is open to the public and no pre-registration is required to attend. Seating is limited during 4-6 PM panel sessions. RSVP for panel sessions below in the detailed agenda.
Refreshments will be served throughout the networking mixer from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Light appetizers will be available in the kitchen area of the Venture Café from 6:00 PM till 8:00 PM.

Space is limited for Panel Sessions. Please RSVP for the sessions below:



Panel sessions will be held in the Havana Room on the 5th floor. Space for Panel Sessions is limited. RSVP for these sessions below.


NDIA New England Welcome 

4:00PM – 4:15PM

Rear Admiral (retired) Clarke Orzalli President, NDIA New England Chapter Strategic Business Development Executive, Dassault Systemes


Defense Prime Contractors – Advancing DoD Innovation

4:15 – 5:00 PM     

Defense industry prime contractors discuss their role in DoD innovation, how they bring new technology to the warfighter, and working with startups and small businesses. Come learn about how leading contractors solve real problems for the US soldier and transition new innovations from the lab to the field.

Moderator: Karen Krause Bencal, CEO, K2C Associates


  • Lena Furci, PhD, Business Line Manager, Integrated and Unmanned Systems, Mission and Defense Technologies, Battelle
  • Ellen Ferraro, PhD, Director of Research and Technology, Advanced Technology, Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems
  • Jerry Wohletz, PhD, VP and General Manager, Technology Solutions, BAE Systems
  • Joe Simonelli, Senior Director of Engineering for Cyber and Electronic Warfare Systems & Security Solutions, General Dynamics Mission Systems


DoD Innovation Organizations – New Technologies for the Warfighter

5:15 – 6:00 PM 

Learn about government innovation organizations with a mission to expedite access to commercial innovations, as well as the development of new technologies for the warfighter. Hear from leaders and subject matter experts about technology focus areas, as well as near-term and long-term needs.

Moderator:  Nathan Wiedenman, Director, Sembler Office, Draper


  • Brad Pantuck, Program Manager, US Navy, Navy Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF)
  • Michael McGinley, East Coast Military Lead, DIUx
  • Israel Soibelman, PhD, Assistant to the Director for Strategic Initiatives, MIT Lincoln Laboratory
  • Charlene Stokes, The MITRE Corporation




  • 3-5pm – DIUx will host 1:1 Office Hours (Presto and Sonata)


6:00-7:00 PM


How to do Business With the DIUx (Havana Room)

DIUx is a fast-moving government entity that provides non-dilutive capital to companies to solve national defense problems. Pilot contracts are issued within 90 days for hardware, software, or unique services. After successful pilots, companies can easily enter into follow-on contracts with the DoD just as fast. Come to the breakout session and learn more about doing business with DIUx!

Partnering with Defense Primes to Transition Your Innovation from Idea to Product Launch (Octave)
How Startups Can Leverage University Relationships with Industry and Facility Resources (St Thomas)

How to work with the Navy Rapid Innovation Fund (Santa Clara)
A Decentralized Data Infrastructure for Autonomy and Artificial Intelligence (Grand Bahama)



 A selection of organizations offering resources for entrepreneurs.

  • Draper Sembler Office for Startups and Small Businesses
  • Battelle Mission Defense Technologies
  • BAE Systems
  • National Defense Industry Association, New England Chapter
  • General Dynamics Mission Systems
  • Raytheon


Karen Krause-Bencal

Karen Krause-Bencal is the CEO of K2C Associates LLC, a commercialization consulting firm specializing in emerging technologies with both national security and industrial market applications. Karen works with startups and small businesses, as well as DoD research labs, Defense Primes and Industrial Corporate Venture Groups, to transition defense innovations from the lab to the marketplace. K2C covers portfolio areas with significant industrial R&D investments, such as artificial intelligence, autonomy, and cyber-resilient distributed data systems.

Dr. Jerry Wohletz

Dr. Jerry Wohletz is vice president and general manager of Technology Solutions, the research and development business within BAE Systems’ Electronic Systems sector. TS innovates science, technology, and engineering breakthroughs for some of the toughest technology challenges in the defense, aerospace, power and propulsion, and security industries. R&D focus areas are advanced electronics, autonomy, cyber, electronic warfare, and sensors and processing. The TS business is funded primarily by science and technology R&D organizations within the U.S. Department of Defense.

Dr. Ellen Ferraro

Ellen Ferraro, Ph.D., Director, Research and Technology, Advanced Technology, Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems (IDS)
Dr. Ellen Ferraro is the Director of Research and Technology within the Integrated Defense Systems (IDS) Advanced Technology business area. In this role, she is responsible for driving the development of technologies and differentiators for future generations of Raytheon programs working with government Science & Technology (S&T) contract agencies, businesses, suppliers, small businesses, and universities. IDS has a broad portfolio of weapons, sensors and integration systems that support its customer base across multiple mission areas, including air and missile defense systems; missile defense radars; early warning radars; naval ship operating systems; command, control, communications, computers, cyber and intelligence (C5I™) products and services; and other advanced technologies.

Dr. Lena M. Furci

Dr. Lena Furci is the Business Line Manager for Integrated & Unmanned Systems, within Mission and Defense Technologies (MDT) at Battelle. Her business area provides new technology solutions to the warfighter in the area of Counter Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles (C-UAV), Rapid Reaction Prototyping, and Missile Defense (Targets and Support Equipment). Battelle works with start-ups, small businesses, defense prime contractors and DoD customers to support new technology development and transition. Since its founding in 1929 as a charitable trust, a non-profit organization, Battelle serves the national security, health and life sciences, and energy and environmental industries.

Joseph Simonelli

Joseph Simonelli is the Senior Director of Engineering for the Cyber and Electronic Warfare Systems line of business at General Dynamics Mission Systems. His organization is advancing cyber security for the Nation and its allies by building and delivering resilient and reliable defensive and offensive cyber and EW products. Our technologies and integrated solutions leverage comprehensive ecosystem capabilities that simplify cyber security solutions. The goal is to increase value and ease of use for partners and customers in order to deliver the confidence to operate successfully in the digital world. As Director of Engineering, his role is to develop a multi-disciplinary, world-class product development organization dedicated to bringing improved and innovative solutions to market quickly, through open collaboration with industry and academia, leveraging lean, commercial industry best practices and empowering small, entrepreneurial teams that think and act like startups.

Nathan Wiedenman
Nathan Wiedenman is the Director of the Sembler Office at Draper, a focused effort to provide support to and partner with start-up companies across multiple technical domains. Draper has a wide spectrum of facilities, resources, and expertise that can be utilized by start-ups to mature their concepts, refine their prototypes, and ultimately get to market. He joined Draper in 2014 after a 21-year career as a U.S. Army officer, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. He served as a combat leader in armor units and spent the later portions of his Army career in DoD research and development.
Israel Soibelman
Dr. Israel Soibelman is the Assistant to the Director for Strategic Initiatives at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. His responsibilities include assisting in the development of Laboratory-level strategic planning, and leading and helping grow external strategic relationships. Prior to his appointment as the Assistant to the Director, Dr. Soibelman served as the Head of the Homeland Protection and Air Traffic Control Division at the Laboratory, directing programs in homeland air defense, chemical and biological defense, homeland security, and air traffic control.

Dr. Bernadette Johnson

Dr. Bernadette Johnson is the Chief Science Officer of Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx), which focuses on accelerating commercial innovation for the Department of Defense. As CSO, her primary responsibilities are the development of a multi-disciplinary technology corps to provide support to the DIUx strategic portfolio areas. Prior to joining DIUx in 2016, she was the Chief Technology Officer at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. Her responsibilities included the development of the Laboratory’s long-term technology strategy.

Brad Pantuck 

Brad Pantuck is the deputy program manager for the Department of Navy’s Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) at the Office of Naval Research (ONR) in Arlington, Virginia. The program disburses about $60 million in contract awards annually. Since 2012 he has managed the team that conducts due diligence and then guides select prototypes from development into operations.  About 50% of the prototypes deploy into military operations within five years of contract award.

Colonel Michael T. McGinley
Colonel Michael T. McGinley serves as East Coast Lead for the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx). In this role, he leads DIUx’s Boston office and is responsible for executing DIUX’s mission to bring innovative commercial technologies and processes to the Department of Defense. Before being assigned to DIUx, Col McGinley was a Joint Cyber-Planner and the Mission Area Lead for USCYBERCOM’s Public-Private Partnership initiative, where he created and led advanced cyber tech outreach teams in Silicon Valley, New York City, and Boston, and crafted and implemented USCYBERCOM’s partnership strategy with venture capital/tech firms and academia.

Charlene Stokes, The MITRE Corporation
Following 12 years at the Air Force Research Laboratory, Dr. Stokes recently joined The MITRE Corporation to expand their human-machine team (HMT) capabilities and grow their Innovation Bridging activities. She established and directed the Human-Machine Social Systems Lab as an AFRL resource at Yale University from 2011-2016. She then moved the HMSS Lab from Yale to a Boston accelerator, MassRobotics, in an effort to increase engagement with the commercial sector and the robotics and AI innovation community. She continues to direct the HMSS Lab at this location under MITRE. Her primary research focus is on the social dynamics of human-machine interaction, and she is a passionate advocate for cross-service collaboration and open innovation communities.