The 2014 Navy Opportunity Forum paired small businesses and researchers with potential partners, funding sources, acquisition professionals and resource sponsors. Companies—small businesses in particular— were able to present their new materials, processes and manufacturing techniques to prime contractors and Navy and Marine Corps program managers.
The focus of the event was the Department of the Navy’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. It also touched on related programs designed to help small business contribute to the nation’s defense, including the Transition Insertion Program Savings (TIPS) and the Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF).
More than 1,000 attendees heard directly from Navy leadership, saw new technology and met and exchanged ideas with technology developers, members of the acquisition community, lead system integrators, and first and second tier suppliers. The forum helps generate partnerships that allow these technologies to become part of programs that transition to the fleet.
Navy leadership said that small businesses are vital contributors.
“In the past five years the Department of the Navy has awarded $13 billion on average to small business. That number near doubles when you consider the requirement for subcontracting with small businesses that are included in our major contracts,” said Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition Sean Stackley.
“You can bring technology and solutions that actually meet defined requirements, whether that’s new technologies, or old technologies that are used in an innovative way, to address a warfighter need, or cost, or readiness,” said Vice Paul Grosklags, Stackley’s principal military deputy. “Those things are getting attention today.”
“How do you take technology and capability, mature it in a cost effective manner, and get it into the warfighters’ hands?,” asked Bob Kimble, deputy program executive officer for unmanned aviation and strike weapons at Naval Air Systems Command. “It’s all about the connection between the requirement or the need, and the technology that is out there, and bringing it all together. Within the mission set, the key is maturing that technology.”
“Your development, initiative and innovating thinking and how you put that into major weapon systems,” Kimball said. “Our job is to help facilitate that.”
Ray Walker of Keystone Synergistic Enterprises said the forum has been very good. “This is our fourth one, and we’ve been very busy. It’s a focused group of people that are here, and they’re looking specifically for technologies.”
“This has been a fantastic show for us,” said David Barnhard of Kutta Technologies. “It’s allowed us to engage with our program sponsors and potential partners.”