| Structured opportunities for SBIR awardee presentation(s): at event.
| inknowvation@work® project: elements
The high rate of post-event contact and site-visit follow-up that has defined inknowvation@work® sessions to date is no accident.
- A rigorous process of needs-driven, pre-event matching ensures that the small firms involved on these occasions bring to the table capabilities that are of direct interest to the host Tech Seeker
- Useful pre-event information exchanges ensure that substantive discussion can occur in session
- Program design and structure supports multiple and various interactions over the period of the event allowing discussion of underlying issues of consequence, and effectively laying valuable groundwork for subsequent conversations and business exchanges.
While the percentage of post-event useful interaction for the group of SBIR participants as a whole is significantly better than most, there can obviously be no guarantees for any one small firm that event participation will lead to a relevant working relationship ... but there certainly will be far better understanding of how that firm works and what they're looking for and, perhaps just as important, contacts that may prove subsequently quite valuable.
The lead-up to any inknowvation@work® event is characterized by a rigorous competency-matching process and extensive pre-event interaction and information exchange initially with any qualified SBIR awardee with an interest in event participation and then with those (usually) 30-35 small firms selected for involvement.
All this preparatory activity culminates in a carefully structured one-and-one half day event held on the site of featured Tech Seeker and involving a range of senior decision-making personnel from that corporation.
Objective: mutually useful, business collaboration.
Focused explicitly on addressing the defined technology development and collaborative needs of a particular large firm inknowvation@work® is a specialist, component part of the needs-driven, market-pull ASSET system - a powerful, carefully integrated approach already proven effective in enabling useful working relationships and consummated deals between
- those from major and mid-sized corporations with the job description and responsibility to bring in from outside the firm relevant technologies- what we call Tech Seekers
- and appropriately qualified SBIR-involved firms with the relevant skill sets and capabilities to address the expressed needs of the larger firm
On their own turf
One of three sophisticated event-vehicles developed and offered as part of the ASSET system, the essence of inknowvation@work® is that
- attention is on the technology interests and needs of a single, major corporation. This level of focus usually serves to engage key decision-makers at various levels within that corporation and, critically for the small firm, provides a useful overview and insight into the firm's longer-term, technology road map and modes of operation and deal decision-making.
- the meeting - usually 1.5 days in duration - is held in the corporate facilities of the particular Tech Seeker and/or close by. This proximity often enables event involvement at some level by a far wider range of players associated to the Tech Seeker than could ever justify time out (and expense) to travel elsewhere. This structured exposure to the depth-in-quality that is usually the SBIR awardees participant in these sessions has tended, on previous occasions, to support a far better and broader buy-in by company personnel at all levels to the idea and to the value of SBIR firm involvement.
- extensive pre-event interaction enables significant at-event involvement with those of relevant competencies and know-how and, critically, decision-making authority. Enabling this type of substantive discussion often leads to consideration of topics and matters which might not ordinarily have been on any pre-set agenda. A growing track record of very interesting projects which neither party would likely have thought to ask for in advance. A major bonus that has often proven to be profitable to the smaller firms involved.
- the event is strictly by-invitation with selection of the participant small firms driven primarily by the relevance of their skills set and capabilities to the large firm needs
A high level of productive interaction and working sessions usually serves to yield a substantial number of working relationships and actual deals. Enabling the participation of some of the best of the SBIR community showcases both them - and the community overall - in the most advantageous manner.
Indeed, it has been our experience that when a large or mid-sized firm in their role as Tech Seeker commits to an on-site session like inknowvation@work®, they have bought in seriously to the notion of SBIR-STTR-involved firms as a major concentration of technical talent. With the support of senior players within the firm, those tasked with bringing in external capabilities - designated Tech Seekers - are focused towards actively engaging a cross-section of that talent in range of collaborative relationships.
Real deals do get done! ...and often far more of them then any one individual could generally achieve.
The right people:
This approach is NOT about how many people you meet; it is about meeting the right people
In the technology development and partnering space - an important aspect of the SBIR world - scheduling events to bring together large firms and SBIR awardees is become almost standard fare. The agencies require your participation in various types of training programs usually culminating in some sort of showcase event, and your mailbox is filled with notifications of not-to-be-missed opportunities for this type of interaction.
Ever mindful of the heavy demands on the time of SBIR awardees, we have developed a three-component event system - all characterized by
- rigorous pre-event targeting to ensure relevant matching
- active engagement of only those representing the large firms with the relevant job description and decision-making authority
- structured preparatory interaction pre-event along with appropriate materials availability to allow parties to move quickly to substantive discussion
- careful program design to maximize useful and several time interaction
- quality and relevant support program content
- and - not trivially - small-scale participation. By careful design, no ASSETs event ever involves more than about 100 people
Far too often, large number of event participants gives the illusion of activity but yields remarkably useful outcome. In striking contrast, the carefully integrated ASSET system has already achieved a strong track record of getting SBIR awardees to actual working relationships - hundreds of post-event interactions and many consummated deals factoring to tens of millions of dollars. These three event components are:
- The ASSETs Forum - a once-a-year event usually involving 10-12 Tech Seekers. Though it often works out that the participating large firms cluster around particular industry or technology space, in fact the call for participation is open. Some of our Tech Seekers routinely plan to be there at least one of the days almost every year. ASSETs works for them and they find something of major interest every time. More commonly, however, this is where larger firms new to the SBIR collaboration opportunity on a systematic bases using get involved to get a sense of how all this works. Typically, the scope of what they're looking for is fairly generally defined but, at our recommendation, functionality focused. This approach has tended to enable some often very interesting cross-fertilizing discussions - technology developed in one industry segment having direct relevance to a need/problem in completely different space.
- .... Focused on series - usually scheduled 3-4 times a year and sometimes piggy-backed onto larger related events offered by others, a focused session organizes around either an industry segment - e.g. Life Sciences - or a technology focus with cross-industry relevant e.g. All things water related. Typically these events will involve 7-9 Tech Seekers. Given the more specialist nature of topics addressed, the number of working relationships per Tech Seeker is often higher than at a Forum.
- inknowvation@work - generally offered 3-4 a year, driven by expressed need, the focused emphasis of these convenings often results in a quite large number of post-event interactions and a much higher rate of working relationship than in any other setting. To have been @work engaged has proven to be particularly productive for the small firms involved.