About BLIS

What is BLIS?

The VMI Business Leadership and Innovation Summit (BLIS) is a VMI-centric event to highlight VMI entrepreneurship successes open to alumni and cadets. The VMI Business Leadership and Innovation Summit (BLIS) is a collaborative effort to celebrate VMI alumni (and their colleagues) successes in business innovation. The goal is to provide a platform for alumni to come together to bond, educate, mentor, and inspire the next generation of Keydet business leaders and innovators. The first event brought back over 80 alumni to network and interact with over 200 cadets. The 2019 summit will be held at VMI in Marshall Hall.

For information on participating in future BLIS events or the general innovation and entrepreneurship programming at VMI, please contact Prof. Dee Mornah, Director of VMI Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Thank you to this year’s
Breakfast & Cadet Pitch Session Sponsors:

Lighthouse Labs

Thank you to this year’s
Primary Sponsor:

Mass Mutual of Greater Richmond


Check out all the photos from 2019 BLIS.

Video playlist of the plenary speakers and Armed Forces session coming soon.


Come for one day or two! Registration is limited to VMI alumni and cadets. Registration is required to attend but there is no registration fee.  VMI is unable to reimburse travel or related expenses. Register here.


Can I find out if any of my BRs are coming?

You will have the option during registration to be included on a public list of those attending. This will be an easy way to share with your BRs that you will be here.

Spread the Word!

  • Forward Our Emails – You can help spread the word by forwarding email about this event to your BRs or send them a note and include the website address to encourage them to register.
  • Join Our List – If you aren’t already receiving our summit emails, request to join the email list by emailing Derek Pinkham, Conference Project Manager. Be sure to include your first and last name in the body of your email.
  • Request Info – Cadets may request more information and enroll, by contacting Prof. Mornah in the ECBU Department.
  • Join Our Discussion Group – VMI Alumni can join our closed LinkedIn group VMI Entrepreneurship, Business, Leadership, and Innovation by requesting an invitation from Professor Dee Mornah.

Program Schedule

11apr5:00 pm7:00 pmTHURSDAY April 11 Networking Event/Reception5:00 pm - 7:00 pm VMI Museum

11apr8:00 pm9:30 pmDesign Thinking Certification Course8:00 pm - 9:30 pm Turman Room, Preston Library

12apr8:00 am9:00 amFRIDAY April 12 Registration, Breakfast Buffet and Cadet Poster Session8:00 am - 9:00 am Hall of Valor

12apr9:15 am10:15 amWelcome Ceremony and Speaker Michael Morris9:15 am - 10:15 am Gillis Theater

12apr10:30 am11:30 amPanel: Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Armed Forces10:30 am - 11:30 am Gillis Theater

12apr11:30 am12:30 pmLunch with Topic Tables11:30 am - 12:30 pm Hall of Valor

12apr12:45 pm1:15 pmCadet Pitches12:45 pm - 1:15 pm Gillis Theater

12apr1:30 pm2:30 pmWorkshops Round One1:30 pm - 2:30 pm

12apr2:45 pm3:45 pmWorkshops Round Two2:45 pm - 3:45 pm

12apr4:30 pm5:30 pmParade4:30 pm - 5:30 pm

12apr6:00 pm7:00 pmReception6:00 pm - 7:00 pm Second Floor, Hall of Valor

12apr7:00 pm7:45 pmDinner7:00 pm - 7:45 pm Hall of Valor

12apr7:45 pm8:45 pmRoberts Speaker Sean Matson '057:45 pm - 8:45 pm Hall of Valor

13apralldaySATURDAY April 13(All Day: saturday)

13apr7:00 am8:00 amBreakfast and Registration7:00 am - 8:00 am Hall of Valor

13apr8:15 am9:15 amPanel: Focus on Departments and Faculty8:15 am - 9:15 am Gillis Theater

13apr9:30 am10:30 amPanel: Venture Financing Strategies9:30 am - 10:30 am Gillis Theater

13apr10:45 am11:45 amAlumni Pitch Session10:45 am - 11:45 am Hall of Valor

13apr11:45 am1:00 pmLunch & Presentations11:45 am - 1:00 pm Hall of Valor

13apr1:00 pm2:00 pm“How I Built This”: Alumni Entrepreneurship Spotlights1:00 pm - 2:00 pm Gillis Theater

13apr2:00 pm2:00 pmADJOURN2:00 pm - 2:00 pm

13apr2:00 pm3:30 pmOptional: Devils Backbone Brewing Company2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

Marshall Hall

The BLIS conference will be held in Marshall Hall, directly behind Smith Hall, and is home to the VMI Center for Leadership and Ethics, which promotes a variety of leadership and ethics initiatives at VMI.

The facility is named in honor of General George C. Marshall, a graduate of VMI in 1901, an exemplar of leadership and ethics and includes The Hall of Valor, Gillis Theater, several break-out rooms, a boardroom, and gallery.

Area Information & Lodging

Lexington is a small town full of history and culture, as well as amenities for business travelers attending conferences and symposia. Information on all that Lexington has to offer, including lodging, may be found at the Lexington and Rockbridge Area Tourism site. Also, find out what’s new in downtown Lexington from Main Street Lexington.

Lexington, Virginia  Ranks #5 in USA TODAY’s 2017 poll of “Best Southern Small Town” — and the only place in Virginia on the list.

USA Today, 'Best Southern Small Town Survey'

Contracted Hotels