The Department of the Navy (DON) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program Management Office tasked ETC to do some scoping and research and identify areas where we can improve the number of small businesses participating in the Navy's SBIR/STTR programs. We have a particular emphasis on underrepresented companies, which in the eyes of the DON are Small Disadvantaged Businesses (SDBs), Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB), Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSB), and HUBZone certified small businesses.
We started this project by creating a scalable methodology that leverages data and metrics from various sources, calling it the TechFire® Magnifying Glass, also mentioned by Bingo in this issue. The tool assesses different U.S. cities’ ecosystems and picks the best positioned ones for underrepresented firms.
To determine which cities to outreach to, we focus on four key parameters:
City potential - We use the JSA ranking, done by two MIT economists that ranked 102 U.S. cities they have identified to be potential new technology hub cities;
Government investments - We look at the investments made in the area over the last ten years;
Collaborative Partners - We identify the economic development organizations in the area to see who we could partner with;
Company potential - We use census data to see how many socially/economically disadvantaged businesses exist there
Once we choose our initial shock group of cities, we can engage with the local organizations there. The data in the Magnifying Glass gets pulled into automated engagement products. We send partner organizations their Automated TechFire® Ecosystem Assessment Report, which introduces the DON SBIR/STTR programs and provides a snapshot summary of their data. We also send them a TechFire® presentation, allowing them to peak over the fence and view other cities' in this outreach project's data.
We have outreached to the Minority Business Development Agencies (MBDA) and/or the Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) in Houston, TX, El Paso, TX, Detroit, MI, Omaha, NE, Alexandria, VA, Southwest Pennsylvania, and Montpelier, Vermont with positive results. The cities' organizations have agreed to collaborate with us on this project. As partners, they have committed to monthly 15-min tag-up meetings where we can discuss progress and successes. These cities have agreed to cc' ETC on any outreach activities they do. An example of an outreach activity can be the MBDA reaching out to a specific company in their network about a topic they have a matching technical capability.
They will connect us to any other local collaborators in the area and fill out a monthly highlights report where they document the outreach activities, new SBIR participation, and if any of their companies received an award. In return, we will give them multi-city monthly highlights report that will be a roll-up of all cities participating, so they can share lessons learned and best practices.
We are incredibly excited to see the effects of this project and to continue to steadily engage our city partners.