December 20, 2011 by cs
The Department of Defense’s 2012 SBIR solicitation is now open and accepting proposals until January 11, 2012..
Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) is a government program, coordinated by the Small Business Administration, in which 2.5 percent of the total extramural research budgets of all federal agencies with extramural research budgets in excess of $100 million are reserved for contracts or grants to small businesses. Annually, the SBIR budget represents more than $1 billion in research funds. Over half the awards are to firms with fewer than 25 people and a third to firms of fewer than 10. A fifth are minority or women-owned businesses. Historically, a quarter of the companies are first-time winners.
In addition, Congress established the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program in 1992. It is similar in structure to SBIR and funds cooperative research and development projects with small businesses in partnership with not-for profit research institutions (such as universities) to move research to the marketplace.
The SBIR/STTR Programs are structured in three phases. Phase I (project feasibility) determines the scientific, technical and commercial merit and feasibility of the ideas submitted. Phase II (project development to prototype) is the major research and development effort, funding the prototyping and demonstration of the most promising Phase I projects. Phase III (commercialization) is the ultimate goal of each SBIR/STTR effort and statute requires that Phase III work be funded by sources outside the SBIR/STTR Program.
During the solicitation period, communication between small businesses and topic authors is highly encouraged. For reasons of competitive fairness, direct communication between proposers and topic authors is not allowed during the Open period when DoD is accepting proposals for each solicitation. However, proposers may still submit written questions about solicitation topics through the SBIR/STTR Interactive Topic Information System (SITIS). In SITIS the questioner and respondent are anonymous and all questions and answers are posted electronically for general viewing until the solicitation closes. All proposers are advised to monitor SITIS during the Open solicitation period for questions and answers and other significant information relevant to their SBIR/STTR topics of interest.
Topics Search Engine: Visit the DoD Topic Search Tool to quickly and easily find topics by keyword across all DoD components participating in this solicitation.
- December 12, 2011 – Solicitation opens and DoD begins accepting proposals
- January 4, 2012 – SITIS closes to new questions
- January 11, 2012 – Solicitation closes to receipt of proposals at 6:00 AM EST
Complete details on DoD’s 2012 SBIR solicitation may be found at: http://www.acq.osd.mil/osbp/sbir/solicitations/sbir20121/index.shtml.
To be added to the DoD SBIR List serv: ten.ribsdod.vrestsilnull@tsilribs.
December 8, 2011 by cs
There’s a good reason Vangent was named government contractor of the year at the 9th Annual Greater Washington Government Contractor Award gala.
Vangent delivered great results and had a strong brand. Over its fifty plus year history, the Vangent brand grew from a small business unit of NCS, to a $90 million operating division of Pearson PLC, to a $700+ million stand-alone company owned by Veritas Capital that was ultimately acquired by General Dynamics for $960 million on Sept. 30, 2011.
My paramount focus for Vangent’s brand over the past four and a half years was to grow awareness and recognition as a powerful, effective and reliable partner for federal government agencies seeking a services provider to support and answer questions about broad-reaching government programs. These programs included Medicare, military health care, disease control and prevention, student loans and Cash for Clunkers, to name a few.
In today’s government services market, where lowest price and technically acceptable often trumps best value and best solution, and where companies big and small, old and new, are jockeying for a slice of dwindling federal dollars amid an austere budget environment, an effective branding strategy is critical to a company’s success.
Vangent’s growth and market strength were the result of great customer service but also a strong focus on brand value, both internally and externally. Without a strong brand, many government services providers look exactly alike. With a solid and recognizable brand, a government services provider can come to stand for something valuable and important for its employees, customers, investors and the citizenry it serves.
Here are five rules of branding I practiced at Vangent which are essential for any company looking to enter the government services market, expand their market share or to re-position for new growth opportunities:
1) Focus on outcomes, not offerings. You can put a marketing brochure or a website of Company A next to Company B and cover up the names and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Many companies feel compelled to list every capability or skill they offer in a ‘laundry list’ fashion without any context as to what problem or challenge they help their customers overcome. A much more compelling way to communicate what a company does differently is to promote the outcomes or results it accomplishes for its customers – in plain English. Vangent built a successful branding campaign on the fact that “four out of ten Americans connect with Vangent, but never know it.” We combined this powerful and memorable factoid with a unique result it helped its customers accomplish. One example was how Vangent helped a customer enable better information sharing among multiple agencies which saved time and money – reducing processing time from eight months to just one day and shaving 30 percent in operating costs. Using that kind of differentiator will make your company stick out from the rest of the pack and allow you to stake claim to a result which you can build your brand around.
2) Equip your employees with the tools they need to be effective brand communicators. In the government contracting world, employees are your most valuable brand ambassadors. But the reality is that most employees who work for government services providers can barely recite their company’s mission or vision statements, let alone their menu of service offerings. The reason is simple: Mission statements too often are too long and full of over-used industry jargon. Make it easy for your employees by giving them the tools they need to not only memorize the meaning or essence of your company’s brand, but to internalize the brand so that they can effectively explain what your company’s brand represents. When Pearson Government Solutions was rebranded as Vangent in 2007, it created a “brand playbook” given to every employee and helped them understand the importance of branding, the words to describe Vangent’s brand and examples or “proof points” that helped them explain what Vangent’s brand represents. The brand playbook was an essential part of Vangent’s on-boarding program for new employees and was reinforced with a short and impactful video shown to all employees.
3) Create an emotional feeling about your brand. It’s OK, really! Companies marketing products we buy and use every day are masters at creating an emotional connection with consumers. They want you to feel good about buying and using their product. That’s why today’s consumer marketing focuses on how you feel versus how much the product costs or whether you need it. Why can’t we apply that same rule to the government services market? Vangent showcased its experts and thought leaders on video in a series of conversations about some of the most pressing challenges facing its customers. What’s the point in keeping their faces and thoughts hiding behind nondescript bios or ho-hum descriptions of your company’s services? Bring your company to life and create an emotional connection with your target audiences by storytelling. Showcase your company’s talent in rich content, quality photos and compelling videos. You’ll offer your customers, teaming partners and new recruits a glimpse into your company before they‘ve had the chance to meet you in person.
4) Your brand is your culture and culture trumps strategy any day. The first question asked by any new employee is about the company’s culture, not about the company’s strategy. They’ll want to know what it’s like to work at your company, what the environment is like and the opportunities to advance their careers. Many companies in the government services industry struggle in communicating their company culture and instead give employees lists of customers, names of contract vehicles and a list of company locations. Does that really answer an employee’s need to understand the company culture? Hardly. Vangent focused on its six core values and one in particular: We do meaningful work. Employees understood the impact they had on the lives of millions of people every day. This powerful value permeated throughout the company in employee communications, external communications in the forms of media relations, investor relations and marketing and recruiting campaigns.
5) Invest in your company’s brand – no matter how much – and don’t be ashamed about it. The old saying “don’t be penny wise and pound foolish” certainly rings true today in the government services industry where pressure on top and bottom line growth has squeezed out marketing, communications, advertising and branding budgets. During an era of dwindling resources in the federal government where blatant promotion is frowned upon, how do you distinguish your company and justify precious resources? In a down economy like the one we’re experiencing today, it’s more important than ever to up your game and take advantage of new and inexpensive ways to showcase your company. At Vangent, I implemented an integrated marketing program which focused on valuable content and compelling videos. I also used social media tools including Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn to drive Vangent’s brand directly to the audiences it aimed to reach. Vangent’s powerful messaging platform was on display at industry events, conferences and trade shows.
Yes, employees, customers and investors do notice which companies have got it going on and which companies are stuck in the past.
About the Author: Eileen Cassidy Rivera is former vice president of communications and investor relations at Vangent, a General Dynamics company. In December, she joined KeeganSilver as senior health marketing strategist supporting Booz Allen Hamilton. This article was published by Washington Technology on Dec. 1, 2011 at http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2011/12/01/marketing-tips-government-market.aspx?s=wtdaily_021211.
June 16, 2011 by cs
Money talks. Or in this case, the sponsors of a new contest to find “the best idea to fix government,” hope it will persuade people far and wide to submit viable technology solutions to improve federal operations.
The Merit Awards contest, sponsored by MeriTalk, which describes itself as an IT community network of contractors, federal employees, and others, is accepting ideas until 6 p.m. Aug. 1. The program includes eight categories: citizen engagement, defense, emergency response, entitlement reform, workforce management and motivation, back office operations, results achievement and waste.
The contest is open to virtually anyone — individuals or teams, government employees or contractors, says MeriTalk’s Mark Meadows. What’s more, entrants may submit ideas however they see fit — from full-blown theses to Twitter messages. That should certainly make things interesting for the judges.
According to MeriTalk, judges will include Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va.; former Republican congressman Thomas M. Davis III; Mark Forman, the first administrator for e-government and IT at the Office of Management and Budget; Vivek Kundra, the federal CIO; Vint Cerf, Google executive and Internet pioneer; and MeriTalk’s founder, Steve O’Keeffe.
O’Keeffe, who described Washington as “an innovation wasteland,” said in a statement: “Let’s sic the power of good ol’ American ingenuity on Uncle Sam. And, let’s go further. Innovation knows no borders — nor does it need a green card. We invite Chinese, Indian, any nomination from the four corners of the globe.”
MeriTalk will announce the winner Aug. 23, at the Innovation Nation Forum in Washington.
– by Katherine McIntire Peters – NextGov – 06/13/11 07:16 am ET at http://techinsider.nextgov.com/2011/06/have_a_good_it_idea_for_government_you_could_win_50000.php?zone=NGtoday
June 9, 2011 by cs
The future drop in defense spending should not deter small businesses and innovators from putting forward new ideas, a top U.S. Navy official said June 6, and the coming changes could, in fact, provide opportunities.
“It is going to be tough over the next couple of years to get this right,” Under Secretary Bob Work said of the defense cuts. “We’re going to have many more impediments than defense planners have had in the past.”
Among those challenges, he said, is that the military will still be engaged in the war on terror even as those cuts are made.
“Although it is a challenging time, for small business I see a lot of opportunity,” Work told a luncheon audience at the Navy Opportunity Forum held just outside Washington.
“There’ll be a period of turbulence, without a doubt,” he said. “But no matter what, we’re going to have to rely on the small business community in ways we’ve never relied on them in the past, because we’re going to have to really do things less expensively.”
The annual Navy forum brings together small business technology innovators with Pentagon program managers and industrial prime contractors. Those in attendance include a large number of small businesses – companies with only a dozen or so employees are common – who have completed the initial stages of bringing forward new technologies and are looking to take their ideas to the next level.
“It’s a very good time to be a small business innovator,” Work said. “We want to capitalize on your ability for quick adaptation.”
Work acknowledged the challenges of cutting spending while continuing to meet military commitments around the world. Speaking afterward to reporters, he outlined the way ahead, starting with a major Pentagon effort now underway to determine where cuts can be made.
“The Comprehensive Strategy Review is a pre-Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR),” he said, referring to the study conducted every four years that underpins the country’s military requirements and strategies.
“We’re going to do another full-up QDR in 2013 regardless of the administration” elected in 2012, Work said. “At that point, we will really start to make the final decisions.”
The Comprehensive Strategy Review will “try and make the case on what we think the strategy will [be] over time, 2017 and beyond,” he said.
The review will also enable the White House to come up with an amount for the annual defense budget this fall.
“The way [outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates] has described it is: We’re going to be given a number in 2012 that is largely driven by politics,” Work explained. “We’re going to be given a number in ’13 that is probably driven by math. And by ’14 and out, it’s going to be driven by strategy.
“So what we want to know is, let’s make sure that when we start making procurement decisions in ’12 and ’13, they support what we think we’re headed towards,” he said.
Work declined to provide any specifics about what programs might be cut.
“Every single program is on the table,” he declared. “The fact that we’re not talking about anything right now is because the Comprehensive Strategy Review hasn’t been completed and we don’t have our final top-line numbers.
“Anything I would tell you about a program would be just pure guessing,” he continued.
The Navy Opportunity Forum continues through Tuesday and Wednesday in Crystal City, Va.
– by CHRISTOPHER P. CAVAS – June 6, 2011 – Defense News – appeared at http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=6726155&c=SEA&s=TOP#.Te_meUhi0cI;email
June 5, 2011 by cs
EI2 has launched an initiative in central Georgia to help smaller manufacturers implement lean principles, a set of tools widely used in manufacturing to help identify and steadily eliminate waste from an organization’s operations. So far, four manufacturers, a hospital and a non-profit charitable organization are enrolled in the Group Lean Implementation Project, also known as GLIP.
“GLIP is a good way for smaller organizations to pool their resources and learn from each other,” said Paul Todd, a lean specialist with EI2. “Manufacturers and non-manufacturers alike can learn how to eliminate non-value added activities and at the same time find out what works for them in their continuous improvement process.”
The following organizations are participating in GLIP:
- Advanced Metal Components in Swainsboro,
- Duramatic in Glennville,
- Easter Seals of Middle Georgia in Dublin,
- Hollingsworth & Vose in Hawkinsville,
- Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia and
- SP Newsprint in Dublin.
As part of the new initiative, EI2 lean specialists Todd and Danny Duggar have led lean overviews, assessed where each organization is in its lean journey, and developed value stream maps, which are diagrams used to analyze the flow of materials and information required to bring a product or service to a consumer.
As part of GLIP, group members rotate hosting events at their facilities, working on specific projects and discussing challenges and successes to date. Already, the team has conducted projects in single-minute exchange of die (SMED) techniques, which shorten the changeover time to reduce production lot sizes and improve flow. The team also applied 5S – a method for organizing the workplace – that stands for sorting, straightening, shining, standardizing and sustaining.
Not only do participating companies benefit from the lean implementations, but they can also take advantage of the Georgia Retraining Tax Credit, in which a company’s direct investment in training can be claimed as a tax credit. Training programs must be approved by the Technical College System of Georgia, and the tax credit can be used to offset up to 50 percent of a company’s state corporate income tax liability. To be eligible, the retraining program must be for quality and productivity enhancements or certain software technologies.
“By utilizing Georgia Tech assistance, we get ideas from professionals who are very well trained and adept in what they’re doing. The other group members bring fresh ideas from organizations with different cultures, backgrounds and types of work that we can take and apply to our companies,” said Daniel Smith, industrial engineering manager for Duramatic Products. “It gives all of us a chance to get out of our comfort zones and see how other companies manufacture so we can use it as a benchmark to improve what we do.”
– by Nancy Fullbright, Georgia Tech- June 1, 2011.
May 27, 2011 by cs
Pindrop Security, a new company based on technology developed by School of Computer Science researchers to verify caller ID, has won the 2011 GRA/TAG Business Launch Competition.
Cosponsored by the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) and the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG), the competition facilitates connections between the younger entrepreneurial community and more seasoned entrepreneurs. Pindrop, founded by primary researcher and Ph.D. student Vijay Balasubramaniyan, beat out three other finalists to claim the $50,000 cash first prize, as well as more than $200,000 in donated services from the Atlanta business community.
Originally called “PinDr0p,” the technology works by analyzing audio imprints left on calls by the multiple networks—cellular, voiceover IP, public switched
telephone networks—through which they travel. It uses these imprints to positively identify the calling phone with high accuracy. Equally important is
that the identification is made within 15 seconds of initial call placement.
Balasubramaniyan developed Pindrop in collaboration with School of Computer Science and Georgia Tech Information Security Center (GTISC) faculty, including Assistant Professor Patrick Traynor and Professor and GTISC Director Mustaque Ahamad. Earlier this year, TAG named Pindrop Security a Georgia Top 40 Innovation Company, and it also finished second in the 2011 Startup Riot.
“Winning the prize feels great, particularly because there were 88 other great companies competing for it,” Balasubramaniyan said. “It provides great
validation for the technology, the efforts of the team and the market potential. Georgia is a great place to start and build a security-focused technology
company, and we’re pleased to work with the local community to support economic growth and development as we expand our reach into the financial services, government and consumer markets.”
“GTISC researchers are leaders in understanding emerging cyber security threats and in developing innovative techniques that can provide effective
solutions for real-world problems,” said Ahamad. “Pindrop is just another example of this, and it will help maintain Atlanta’s reputation as a security
Balasubramaniyan said the company’s next step will be to use its GRA/TAG competition winnings to hire staff, with plans underway for the next software
release in the fourth quarter of this year.
– published May 26, 2011 – For more information contact: Brendan Streich, Georgia Tech College of Computing, Office of Communications - ude.hcetag.ccnull@hciertsb – Related links appear below:
May 6, 2011 by cs
At the spring training conference of the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (APTAC) last week, Chuck Schadl was named Vice President of Education for this national organization.
Schadl is the program director of the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC). GTPAC is one of 93 procurement technical assistance centers (PTACs) that operate across the country. PTACs assist businesses in identifying, competing for, and winning government contracts. APTAC is the trade association that represents and supports PTACs.
As Vice President of Education for APTAC, Schadl is one of six officers of the organization who make up the executive committee. As VP, he is responsible for overseeing APTAC’s Education Committee as well as the organization’s Professional Review Board. His appointment became effective on March 24, 2011 when he took the oath of office with other board members.
APTAC’s Education Committee determines the type and content of – and arranges for – the training courses to be presented at national training conferences, including the training courses that fulfill the certification requirements of the Professional Review Board (PRB). The PRB is responsible for managing and administering APTAC’s certification program, including developing and maintaining a method of recognizing the professional qualifications of procurement technical assistance specialists, promoting the value of APTAC’s certification and upholding the integrity of the certification process.
“I’ve been active in APTAC ever since I joined GTPAC in 2003,” commented Schadl. “In my new role, I’m looking forward to making an even more meaningful contribution to the organization and its membership. In turn, this should translate into better service to the businesses that PTACs serve nationwide.”
May 6, 2011 by cs
Nothing happens without leadership. It is the single most universal skill in life.
On Friday, May 20, 2011, from 9:00 am until noon, Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute will conduct a no-cost training and networking event focusing on how military leadership can be applied to the civilian world. Featured speakers also will explore the classic building blocks of leadership and provide tools for applying leadership at any level of an organization.
Here are details:
- “Military Leadership Techniques Applied to Civilian Enterprise” – Two former military officers will recount their collective experiences as they relate to current challenges and opportunities in the civilian world. What is it that makes the military so successful in some things and how can the very best practices In the uniformed services be adapted to serve us as civilians? These and other topics will be addressed by this revealing presentation. Speakers: Chip Beckham is a former Navy helicopter pilot with ship-based deployments in anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue and logistics. He now works overseeing quality growth at Nordson Corporation, a world-wide manufacturer of adhesive and coating dispensing equipment. Bernie Flank is a former Navy diver with a vast array of experience in salvage diving and small unit military operations. He currently works in network architecture design and deployment at AT & T.
- “Building your Leadership Potential” – This is an engaging presentation on the classic building blocks of leadership. We’ll discuss how character, clarity, communication, and credibility constitute the four pillars of leadership, and provide tools for building leadership potential at any level of an organization. Topics will include development of a personal values statement, organizational vision, improving powers of clarity, building credibility through charisma, storytelling as a communication strategy, and many more. Speaker: Craig Cochran has assisted countless companies become more competitive. His books include practical guides on quality, continual improvement, customer loyalty, and problem solving. Craig has spent the last few months fine tuning his approach to leadership and is excited about sharing it.
This event is free, but you must pre-register to attend. To register, please click this link and enter the requested information: http://gamep.org/?page_id=1329.
This event will take place at the GTRI Auditorium at 250 14th Street, Atlanta. This is the building right beside Georgia Public Broadcasting on 14th Street. You can’t miss it. Parking is free inside the parking deck. Your internet mapping programs (such as Mapquest) and your GPS devices will accurately guide you to 250 14th Street.
April 28, 2011 by cs
Entrepreneurs are a powerful economic force. They create jobs, grow businesses, and develop the innovations on which America thrives. In order to help entrepreneurs thrive, the White House announced the launch of an initiative called “Start-up America” to celebrate, inspire, and accelerate high-growth
entrepreneurship throughout the nation.
This initiative comes to Georgia Tech on Monday, May 2, 2011. The event is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required.
The “Startup America: Reducing Barriers” event will be held from 1:00 until 4:30 pm on Monday, May 2 at Georgia Tech’s Global Learning Center, located at 84 Fifth Street, NW, Atlanta, GA 30308-1031.
Administration officials will join local high-growth entrepreneurs to discuss the regulatory reforms, reductions and improvements that could be enacted to help high-growth entrepreneurs grow in our country.
This event is free of charge, however pre-event registration is required, and space is limited.
Scheduled to participate are: Marie Johns (Deputy Administrator, US Small Business Administration), Michael Fitzpatrick (Associate Administrator, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs), Teresa Rae (Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the US Patent and Trademark Office), Ronnie Chatterji (Senior Economist, Council of Economic Advisors) and local leaders.
Again, you must register in advance. RSVP to vog.absnull@sreirrabgnicuder.
March 14, 2011 by cs
Amir Aghdaei, president of Tektronix, will deliver the annual James R. Carreker Lecture on April 7, 2011 at 11:00 a.m. in the Van Leer Auditorium on Georgia Tech’s midtown Atlanta campus. His lecture topic will be “The Future of Engineering and Why Innovation Matters.” This presentation will be delivered live to the Georgia Tech-Savannah and Georgia Tech-Lorraine campuses.
2011 marks the 65th anniversary of Tektronix. Amir Aghdaei, president of Tektronix, will visit the Georgia Tech campus to discuss how the engineer’s job is impacted by the technology trends driving our industry today. He will also share his view about the importance of technology and innovation to address the acceleration of those trends in the future.
Amir Aghdaei was appointed president of Tektronix in May 2009. He joined Danaher, the parent company of Tektronix, in October 2008 and completed immersion learning about the company culture and the Danaher Business System. Mr. Aghdaei has more than 20 years of experience in the test and measurement industry. Prior to joining Danaher, he was with HP/Agilent and held a variety of positions in life science and test/measurement businesses. During his tenure with HP/Agilent, Mr. Aghdaei lived in Pennsylvania, Germany, Holland, Colorado, and Singapore. His last position at Agilent was as the general manager/vice president of the Measurement Systems Division.
Most recently, Mr. Aghdaei worked at Credence as the senior vice president of sales and marketing in California. He was accountable for developing Credence’s short- and long-term strategy, refining/repositioning the company’s product portfolio, and developing/executing its worldwide channel strategy.
Mr. Aghdaei earned an M.B.A. from the University of Delaware, master’s of science from Georgia State University, and a bachelor’s of science degree in industrial engineering from the University of Iran.
The announcement may be found at http://www.ece.gatech.edu/jrc-lecture.