P3V: TechMatching

 ASSETs®: an acronym that well describes what this system is about 
A
ccess SBIR-STTR Scientific & Engineering Talent system: 

Developed by long-time SBIR advocate Ann Eskesen, ASSETs is an integrated, market-pull, needs-driven system structured to provide the means - the tools, content diversity, resources AND opportunities (on and offline) - pro-actively and creatively to enable useful and relevant technology capability connections, to support real and appropriate business transactions and to facilitate viable, potentially sustainable working relationships between

  • those persons - called here Tech Seekers – in Major/Mid-sized Corporations and (increasingly in) Mission Agencies having the responsibility (1) to identify, and (2) the authority to engage the talent, capabilities and in-place outcomes of external sources of technical expertise
  • and those specific SBIR-involved firms that critical capabilities analyses - and comprehensive pre-contact - suggests have the requisite skills-sets and capacities sought by the Tech Seeker to tackle particular projects, along with the in-place IP and/or the products they want/need to buy

Anchored in powerful analytical systems and for many years operational primarily in event mode (Face-to-Face (F2F): by-invitation, small-scale and targeted, highly interactive working sessions), ASSETs is now expanded to employ FOUR different techniques and approaches to enable these sustainable Working Relationships - STEP; F2F; IP3 and P3V.  Compelling evidence of the effectiveness of this highly sophisticated, data-driven, systematic mining of the detailed SBIR competency pool to match Tech Seeker needs to relevant expertise, is the fact that the ASSET system has already enabled more than $300M of working relationships and business transactions.

How is the ASSET system different?
       .. simply "Validated competencies"

Collectively, SBIR Awardees are usefully understood as a quite remarkable -- perhaps unique -- aggregation of technical talent.  The basic premise from which ASSETs proceeds is that the extent and form of SBIR engagement by a small firm can be a useful starting indicator of what they may be capable of doing.  The assumption is not that SBIR involvement is causative. Instead, being SBIR involved functions as a very useful listing vehicle with, evenfor the very new Awardees, some a prelminary indication of (likely) competencies.   HOWEVER, to enable truly effective business partnering and technology collaborations, it is our poorfessional judgment that far more must be known about the capabilites of awardees than simply the extent and form of their SBIR involvement.

The clear differentiating factor of ASSETs, therefore, is that everything we do is anchored in systematic and ongoing compilation, tracking and maintenance of a wide range of useful indicators of technology competencies and business condition of SBIR-STTR Awardees: see Tracking Elements.  Further, we judge that in this partner-enabling mode, emphasis must be

  • far less – if at all - on showcasing what the small firm is selling
  • as it is about
    • determining and understanding the functionalities of the small firm's technology(ies): how else it can be used
    • and its relevance to addressing directly what the Tech Seeker is buying.
In common with many others, we define what we do as "addressing Tech Seeker needs",  Critically, however, what we do - and particularly how we do it - cannot in any way be considered a form of CrowdSourcing or of Open Innovation.
  • With JOBs Act implementation, the former has actually become a useful tool for some forms of fund-raising.  Though so far not yet many, our data shows that a growing number of SBIR-involved firms have used/are using these CrowdSourcing platforms to useful purpose. 
  • Further, while the concept of Open Innovation (OI) continues to be valid - that working relationships with external players can be very effective - the inherently limited capacity of OI proponents specifically to target and/or to validate the relevant expertise of those theycontact and those who respond has proven seriously problematic.  The trend has been towards shifting Project Funding opportunities from dollar levels that used to be equivalent to those of (say) an SBIR Phase I,  instead these days to be primarily very small (dollar) projects with, on occasion, the more interesting, larger dollars of Challenges.
With cause, fewer and fewer SBIR involved firms opt to play in these arenas.

In striking and deliberate contrast, ASSETs is entirely organized around meeting the needs of participating Tech Seeker from within the ranks of SBIR-involved - competency validated - Awardees.  Specifically, the effort is
  • to work from the detail of what the Tech Seeker wants: what is the task to hand?
  • to identify that specific population of SBIR Awardees having the relevant qualifications -- skill sets and capablities -- to take on that task
In sum, if you are
  • an SBIR Awardee hearing from us, it will
    • only be for those projects for which you are judged qualified and capable of doing
    • and, thereby, you will know that you are likely be competing only against that limited number of other SBIR Awardees whom we judge similar competent
  • the requesting Tech Seeker, you can assume that any -- and all -- responses you will receive will likely be worthy of your consideration

Thinking about the collectivity that is SBIR Awardees
as equivalent to a massively distributed R&D facility:
 
The trend analyses the extensive and comprehensive SBIR data compiled by the Innovation Development Institute LLC make possible - see Analytics area of this site - clearly shows that the collectively that is SBIR-STTR-involved firms is by far the largest single concentration of technical talent:  almost three times more graduate level engineers and scientists being SBIR employed and connected than all academic researcher combined.  HOWEVER, unlike the fairly well-defined (and readily identifiable) population of academic and non-profit research institutions, for those wishing on any systematic basis to engage this talent

  • simply even to find who they might usefully want to talk to
  • then to achieve a mutually viable, appropriate form of initial working relationships with firm(s) of interest

can be a daunting challenge.  SBIR-involved firms are primarily - almost by definition - small in size: the overwhelming percentage employ fewer than 25 people with a major percentage being very young. They are over the map geographically, in terms of stage of business development, plans for their firm, resource access, areas of technical focus and by any other variable one might wish to list. Even among more established entities, if their SBIR involvement - and thereby their funding agency-identity

  • is recent, limited and/or often indicative of only a part of what they are about
  • and/or they may have a platform capability that extends beyond the specific SBIR-funded element

that Tech Seeker may never find what they seek or identify the hidden gem that could/would be potentially important.

From very shortly after achieving passage of the orginal SBIR enabling legislation, therefore, we opted instead to think about - and to address - the SBIR community as the equivalent of a massively distributed R&D facility likely to include within its ranks those of potentially considerable interest across any and all fields of technical endeavor.  By continuously

  • tracking Awardees by an increasing numbers of factors - technical, business and economic
  • and developing tools and techniques effectively to mine those for a range of purposes
the ASSET system has become by far the most comprehensive and sophisticated means by which the value of what actually resides in that facility can be most effectively identified and realized.