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By Debbie Gregory.

Dr. Bruce Jette, the Assistant Army Secretary for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, is trying to get the word out to small tech firms to come to use the Army’s labs.

The Army is joining forces with industry to achieve land power dominance through science and technology.

Dr. Jette stated “Innovation is an important part of the Army’s strategy to provide the right capability to the Soldier at the right time. The Army makes use of innovations from industry and other partners whenever possible, and we encourage industry to bring innovative technologies and solutions forward to explore the full ideation space and the art of the possible.”

He went on to say “With approximately 23 million companies in the United States, the Army only does business with about 5,000 of them. Having recently come from industry and knowing the challenges associated with entering ‘the process’ of defense acquisition, I submit that the Army must engage proactively and aggressively with all innovators to see what new ideas, concepts, systems and subsystem components they can demonstrate”.

Jette said cooperative research and development agreements that were brought up about two years ago can provide companies access to government equipment.

“Private sector innovation, especially from nontraditional sources, is critical to the Army’s future. I have embarked on a new strategy for soliciting innovative, paradigm-breaking technologies from the startup and nontraditional community to support the Army’s modernization priorities. The first engagement within the new innovation strategy began in June 2018 with the launch of the Expeditionary Technology Search (xTechSearch). It serves as a catalyst for the Army to engage with the nontraditional business sector, driving American innovation to meet Army challenges and spurring economic growth”.

The Army’s lab system has extraordinary equipment, as well as mentors to help small tech firms.   They also have test facilities that are available.

Jette emphasized that the Army is looking for ways to make it easier for technology startups to travel to its labs.

To get these messages to small firms, Jette said the Army is looking beyond the Federal Business Opportunities contracting website.

“FedBizOpps is OK. We have to put everything on FedBizOpps, but I’m also looking for: What do you read? Where do you get your info? Where can I get in front of you my ideas, my needs, my desires for your help [with] things,” he said. “We’re looking at an overall public affairs strategy with respect to how we communicate with the larger innovation audience.”

But Jette warned that face-to-face meetings do not guarantee you a deal.

“A conversation is not a contract. Do not assume that somehow you got a sale because you had a conversation with someone and they thought your stuff was cool,” he said. “As long as we keep that kind of open dialog, we’ll be fine.”

Should you get an opportunity to pitch your product to the Army, Jette said, the best way to distinguish yourself is to show why your innovation is different from other technologies out there.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association with over 7,200 members nationwide encourages those members that have small technical firms to take advantage of this incredible opportunity.