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SBIR Awardee Lobby
Laying the groundwork:
The hallmark of any ASSETs Event is opportunity for extensive pre-event interaction and information exchange between interested parties explicitly designed to enable substantive interaction at-event
This carefully structured preparation and groundwork laid enables those involved in any ASSETs event quickly to get down to business. Unquestionably, this is a (the?) major factor in supporting the considerable extent of post-event interactions and actual deal-making which now defines the ASSETs process. Dozens of deals have been done, with many more still in discussion, already factoring to millions of dollars of business.
At all ASSETs events, Tech Seekers - those with actual, decision-making responsibility - set out in advance what they're actually looking for
- In an online discussion area, interested small firms can ask clarifying questions and can see the responses - their own and those of others
- Awardees can submit and Tech Seekers can review in advance
Topic related White Papers prepared by qualified Awardees Useful Capabilty Statement (Nutshells) indicating what an Awardee brings to the table and the type of relationship(s) that they seek Profiles of those awardees in whom they are interested and who they would like to meet.
Event participating SBIR Awardees are provided valuable and IMPORTANT OPPORTUNITY
- to make presentation before the senior technology and innovation executives of the Tech Seeking large(r) firms
- to hear formal presentations by those senior staff laying out - often in some detail - aspects of their technology road maps, what they are looking for and, very usefully, why. Also often discussed is the form of relationship they anticipate
- to participate in intensive small-group working sessions with those Tech Seekers - often primarily focused to discussions of process
- to meet in often extended one-on-one session on-site and, sometimes, to engage in conference calls with relevant technical personnel off-site.
- to network informally and extensively with those company executives and those from other participating Tech Seeking organizations.
It is interesting Marketing versus selling:
Before making your pitch to sell what you have, to do a deal, OR to get to any form of business relationship, wouldn't it make sense
- to know what the other party is actually interested in buying
- to get a handle on how they see their problems
- to have some sense for what else they have going on that will affect where you fit
- to understand the criterion by which they will make their decision
- to know how much they want to spend
- and the form of the relationship they have in mind? You'd think so! - but, in fact, how often is that actually the case? ... especially inthe SBIR space when the approach is usually one of showcasing what you bring to the table.
- Across the entire range of market space and technology areas, interest among large and mid-sized firms in establishing working relationships with small firms in general - and with SBIR Awardees in particular - is an important and growing phenomenon. Note the major and increasing participation at events like the Navy Opportunity Forum - about 900 people last time around - and the very active engagement with SBIR-involved firms by technology brokering entities like yet2.com and NineSigma.
There is compelling evidence that - for reasons that will be considered during the adjunct program at the event - mutually valuable relationships are being formed; quality deals are being done -- and all that is good. The more these happen, in fact, the more the groundwork is laid and the track record developed that will facilitate it happening some more.
However, it is also clear that the underlying matching-need-to-talent process borders on the chaotic and, at best, is inherently inefficient. Far more useful collaborations could be happening that are not and, given the extent of wheel-spinning and blind alley navigation, the frustration level among all parties is fairly high - large(r) firms and SBIR Awardees alike. Almost all achieved partner-based activity to date has been one-at-a-time laced with a substantial element of pure serendipity. Did you - the Awardee - read the right announcement? Were you at the right stage of development? Were you in the right place at the right time? Were the right people having the discussion? Did all the planets properly align?
As frustrating as it is to many of the SBIR Community striving to make the right connections, extensive discussion with those in the Tech Seeking role suggests there is just as much frustration on their part.
Many highly motivated Technology Seekers are only vaguely aware (if at all) of who SBIR firms are and what they can do. Even those who are very interested and well acquainted with the SBIR program indicate that finding right individual SBIR Awardees with the requisite skill-sets they need can be a major challenge. The overwhelming percentage of awardees are smaller, often young and resource stretched, and almost always to some extent flying under-the-radar. In the white-noise and crackle environment of technology development, even a large SBIR player with important relevant capabilities may be overlooked as not much more than a blip on the screen. Keeping track particularly of those doing relevant leading-edge work - especially across institutional lines - may be seriously problematic.
|From a needs-driven, market pull approach, grounded in powerful, comprehensive relational databases, this carefully structured event is an important attempt to bring some order to this chaos.|