For the past 15 years, the Department of the Navy’s “Forum for SBIR/STTR Transition” (FST) – the nation’s premier small business technology venue – takes a major step forward in allying with the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition (S-A-S) on 16-18 May 2016 at the Gaylord National Harbor near Washington, D.C.
“Our collaboration with the Navy League marries the most significant large and small business marketplaces for defense technology, with our respective policy venues that have consistently attracted top Congressional leaders, in the case of the Forum, and the most senior Navy leadership,” said Bob Smith, the Department of the Navy (DON) SBIR/STTR Director. “We expect great commercialization results from this historic alignment, and an increased capacity for delivering innovation to the Fleet and Force.”
The FST—“The Forum”—has steadily evolved as the intersection of DON acquisition needs and SBIR/STTR solutions; and its success metric from the first Forum in 2000 has been investment in or purchase of SBIR/STTR technologies averaging $1.2 million within 18 months for more than half of the Forum participants. “I’m satisfied that DON SBIR/ STTR has been a great program,” Smith said, “but our goal is to make it even better through a new initiative that closely entwines small and large businesses with the DON acquisition community, to ensure transition of SBIR/STTR solutions to the Fleet and Force.”
More than 100 SBIR/STTR companies will be exhibiting rapidly maturing Phase II technologies at The Forum. An improved acquisition-focused curriculum in the technical assistance program for DON SBIR/STTR contractors underpins the Forum; plus an industry outreach initiative designed to help larger defense firms install a strong business model for SBIR/STTR engagement. “With a heightened level of interest in SBIR/ STTR’s ability to turn innovation into Fleet and Force capability,” Smith noted, “the 2016 Forum will be evidence that we’ve stepped up our game.”
The Forum’s Small Business Exhibition will feature focused SBIR/STTR technology presentations and more than 100 small businesses technology exhibits in a hall adjacent to S-A-S, open throughout the S-A-S event. Both large and small businesses, as well as Naval acquisition personnel, will have the opportunity to conduct one-on-one meetings with participating SBIR/STTR contractors. As always, The Forum will host an impressive list of keynote speakers from the policy arena.
According to the Chief of Naval Research, Rear Adm. Mat Winter, small businesses play an important role in executing the naval S&T strategy to “discover, develop and deliver decisive naval capabilities, near- to long-term, by investing in a balanced portfolio of breakthrough scientific research, innovative technology and talented people.”
“The Navy needs to bring large and small businesses together to examine the technologies we need to invest in, but just as important, how we invest in them,” Winter said.
“We hold a number of conferences to talk about the science of the science, but we also have initiatives to discuss the business of the science, to include the policy, regulations, initiatives in contracting, communications, financing and other elements that take the science of science, and transition it to a warfighter or a program of record,” Winter said.
S-A-S annually attracts the top layer of the U.S. defense industrial base – companies such as Boeing, Raytheon, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, and dozens more – and key military decision makers for an annual innovative, educational, professional and maritime based event. Sea-Air-Space is now the largest maritime exposition in the U.S. and continues as an invaluable extension of the Navy League’s mission of maritime policy education and sea service support.
According to Kevin Traver, who manages S-A-S for the Navy League, the purpose of having the Forum conference concurrent with the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space expo is to bring the system integrators and large contractors together with small business.
“We want to introduce the primes to these small businesses and get their technology into the pipeline,” Traver said.
“That process will be much easier at S-A-S, because we’ll have 12,000 attendees for S-A-S alone, and we expect even more for the Forum. Plus, we’ll have 255 exhibitors and 23 Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard commands exhibiting on the floor. Every major acquisition command for the sea services will be there,” Traver said. “So it opens up the aperture for everybody.”
According to Traver, SAS has evolved over the past five years from an exclusively U.S. market show to an international maritime and naval event. “Last year we had 15 international delegations and ten heads of navies.”
Registration for the forum is free, and includes entrance to the S-A-S exhibit hall and all S-A-S free events. S-A-S attendees also have free access to the forum, including the forum presentations and small business technology exhibits.
“Registering for one of the events means you can attend both for free,” Smith said.