Not quite what I'd expected but I learned a few things - and met some good folks and potential allies.
The two key speakers talked about the DOD acquisition process and the Congressional budgeting process.
Good news: Plenty of opportunities for small/new firms to get involved. No shortage of talented people who will help you.
Bad news: It takes work and serious planning ahead (of course, for the more devoted of you, that only weeds out the amateurs!)
Note: They gave us a binder with a Guide to DOD Contracting and the PPT slides. Not sure what's available online, but any of you want a copy, let me know.
As usual, some of the very best intel came from side comments, such as:
Get thee to FedBizOpps [I'd add www.grants.gov] and register. You can get alerts sent to you based on the keywords you choose.***
Also, it really helps to get on the Central Contractor Registry & make sure you have your DUNS and CAGE numbers, etc.
You also need to ID which set-aside categories you qualify for.
After Wendy Jordan's take on the bureaucracy entailed in DOS acquisition, I was a little daunted but was emphatic that more entrepreneurs should get involved in government contracting & procurement.
she had some hints -
* put your product/service on the GSA's "schedule"
* identify lead contractors who you could subcontract for
* get expert legal help, as they can help you write winning contracts
* And.. Have a great story. And that's still the entrepreneurs edge.
[google on anti- hemorrhage bandages from shrimp shells]
Procurement dollars are bigger, but fewer (I heard an avg $11 million)
R & D dollars are smaller, but more frequent (~$1 million)
Be ready by early February - that's when the next numbers are released - what I heard was that if you want in, especially for procurement, you may have a month to make your case. Have that killer white paper ready in advance.
"Dual Use" - if you've got something with excellent commercial potential, that makes DOD very happy unless of course it's sensitive technology. Otherwise, dual use is a BIG plus and (as Mr. Ritter would say) you should be thinking that way anyhow!
Dennis Kedzior talked budget - he had some some great charts (if a bit frightening) about the growth of the federal budgets.
What really hit me, though, was that work on the FY 2009 budget started in February 2007. Twenty (20) months.
[So if you want to make the President's budget, there are people with a 20-month head start. So if you've got something that a federal entity should buy... start NOW. Especially if you're going for a "Congressional Interest Item"! LOL]
p.s. and don't forget SBIR/STTR. Idaho is starting to get traction, thanks to Rick Ritter & TechConnect (and Mark & Brian at Commerce) but we're still leaving money on the table. (If you're not from Idaho, ignore this! LOL)
In sum, I'm not sure I would have labeled this a "tech summit" but a welcome reminder that procurement and R&D opportunities abound... if you're willing to put in the effort (and to listen to those with expertise.)
Regardless, it's clear that the Gallatin Group has added their voice here. I fully expect there will be more events, whether they organize them or help others. I do think that they'll get feedback from attendees as to what would make sense in future events. I was certainly pleased to meet Joe Hardy from their DC office and finally meet local partner Marc Johnson. (Thanks too to McKinsey Miller for hooking me up for this.)
*** since 'economic development' is one of mine, I keep gtting alerted to a sizable rural ec dev opportunity in rural.... Afghanistan.