Day 3 of PNAA’s ‘Back to the Skies’ conference brought Denise Ryser from the Pacific Northwest Defense Coalition to the stage. Ryser, PNDC’s Director of Market Development, started with a striking number: Washington’s defense industrial base is larger than $10 billion. To support that base, she pointed to PNDC’s “laser focus on defense,” with 300 members across the northwest, coming together to build relationships across businesses and access opportunities in defense. 

 Ryser highlighted rising interest in innovation from the Department of Defense, naming the Army Futures Command, Afworks, and Space Works as examples of service-specific innovation. PNDC, with partners Northwest Tech Bridge and Impact Washington, recently stood up the Mission Acceleration Center (MAC). Based in downtown Seattle, the MAC is a local solution, an innovation hub that brings together academics, businesses, and intermediaries to access opportunities available from the Department of Defense. 

The MAC uses a hub-and-spoke model, with a hub in Seattle and spokes in Spokane and Vancouver, an acknowledgment that defense innovation happens across the northwest. In Seattle, the MAC regularly hosts weekly brown bag innovation lunches that begin with a simple question: “Why isn’t the Department of Defense doing this?” The lunches are an opportunity for innovators to sit down with buyers and tech scouts across the armed services to, “give straight scoop answers to get inside the defense industrial base,” said Ryser. “If you want to diversify into defense, we can help you do that through the MAC.” Learn more at