The annual National SBIR/STTR Conference is schedule for June 16 thru 18 in the Washington DC area (National Harbor, MD). I think it is worth talking about here in the blog. this venue is an excellent chance for small businesses to learn more about the program and to enhance their chances for success in winning awards from the various agencies that participate.
The conference starts on Monday the 16th with some short courses offered for training. The fee for attending these short courses is in addition to participation in the SBIR/STTR conference. On Monday afternoon there are agency program presentations and then agency round tables. This is an opportunity for the small business owner to hear what the agencies plans are relative to the SBIR/STTR programs and how they like to do business. At 5:00 on Monday there is a presentation of the Tibbetts Awards given to the small businesses that exhibit the spirit of the program.
The main conference starts Tuesday morning with welcomes given by Javier Saade of the SBA and John Williams of the Department of Navy followed by a keynote speech given by the Honorable M.C. Sweet of the SBA. There are a large number of sessions discussing various topics of interest to the small business over the next 1 1/2 days (Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday). In addition, there are one-on-one meetings with agency personnel that the small business can sign up and talk directly with SBIR personnel at the agency of interest. This is a great way to find out not only about technical interests of the agency (do they line up with the small business interest and how) but also about logistics of dealing with that specific agency. This direct contact, and actually meeting people from the agency, is a powerful tool for the successful small business. The meeting is actually in the Washington DC area to facilitate the attendance of representatives of the agencies so it is a great opportunity for the small business. There will also be some large business concerns at the conference that the small business owner can meet in-between sessions, at lunches or at networking events planned by the conference. I don't want to create the impression that there are an over abundance of large businesses participating but there will be some there. As the government places more emphasis on commercialization, there will be more need of the small business to form interest and even partnerships with large businesses. I know for a fact that several large primes (Lockheed Martin and Boeing come to mind) publish lists of SBIR topics and interested engineers within these companies each time a new set of SBIR topics are released. This list gives the small business contact names and information of engineers specifically interested in that specific SBIR topic and willing to write letters of support. You probably won't find these lists at the conference but you should be on the lookout for meeting contacts within these large companies. They can direct you to people that can give you the list or, better yet, direct you to somebody to talk with directly about your interests. If you have trouble and would like to see a list from one of these companies, let me know. I can help you find one.