In October of 2012, Jonathan Aberman, currently Managing Director of TandemNSI, released a White Paper titled Department of Defense Laboratories: Engaging Entrepreneurs in Technology Commercialization. The report looked at many of the labs currently operating within the DOD establishment and identified specific actions to be taken to accelerate successful commercialization of DOD funded research. These recommendations remain as relevant today as two years ago, and through TrandemNSI we are looking to promote greater integration between entrepreneurs and national security funded technology. Therefore, we are releasing this previously unreleased report to further that mission.
Below you will find an excerpt of that White Paper which we are making it available for public download for the first time. DOWNLOAD the White Paper here.
On October 28, 2011, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum addressing technology transfer (the “Commercialization Memorandum”).1 The Commercialization Memorandum declares accelerating the transfer and commercialization of federal research to create high growth start up enterprises to be a national priority. It requires “each executive department and agency that conducts R&D to improve the results from its technology transfer and commercialization activities” over the five years from 2013 to 2017.
Agencies with federal laboratories were directed to undertake three interrelated activities: (i) develop metrics for successful commercialization activities, (ii) streamline federal technology transfer processes and procedures and improve the operation of SBIR and SBTT programs, and (iii) facilitate commercialization through local and regional partnerships.
The Department of Defense (“DOD”) operates more than 60 research labs around the United States, and employs over 100,000 scientists and engineers in support of the nation’s war fighting and preparedness missions. The DOD Laboratories establishment (“DOD Labs”) as a collective organization is the largest concentration of research personnel employed by the federal government and is responsible for a number of well-known commercial products and many successful war fighting technologies. As the United States’ national security interests require not just the projection of military power but also the projection and preservation of economic power, generating new innovations and industries has become a national priority. Additionally, the increasing threat posed by asymmetric warfare makes, rapid research, prototyping and entrepreneurial approaches to technology creation the keys to effective response.
In response to the Commercialization Memorandum, the Director DOD Laboratories retained Endeka Consulting (“Endeka”) to examine the DOD Lab’s operations and to identify one or more strategies to help the DOD more rapidly advance the Commercialization Memorandum’s goals. Endeka was not asked to broadly evaluate any existing impediments to successful technology transfer activities, although many impediments previously identified in the Institute for Defense Analyses (“IDA”) report “Technology Transfer and Commercialization Landscape of the Federal Laboratories” (the “IDA Report”) were also identified by Endeka. Therefore, this Report should be considered in conjunction with the IDA Report, as well as with an initiative to identify existing best practices that Endeka understands is currently being undertaken by IDA.
Endeka’s approach was to identify and evaluate ways in which the DOD could accelerate its commercialization activities and to facilitate economic development through technologies it has developed. As discussed below, Endeka interviewed a broad range of personnel from the DOD Lab establishment and concluded that the most likely catalyst for successful commercialization will be the active involvement of experienced entrepreneurs with the DOD Labs researchers and support personnel.
In October of 2012, Jonathan Aberman, currently Managing Director of TandemNSI, released the White Paper titled Merger and Acquisition Trends in Silicon Valley and the Greater Washington Region: 2006-2011. Below you will find the Executive Summary of that White Paper which we are making it available for public download for the first time. DOWNLOAD the White Paper here.
What do a region’s merger and acquisition patterns say about its prospects and desirability as a location for growing and monetizing new technology businesses? In comparison to Silicon Valley, the widely recognized leader in technology company merger and acquisition (“M&A”) activity, the Greater Washington Region fares very well. Moreover, the growing diversity of the GWR’s business community creates a pathway to accelerate startup and ramp up growth in the region that could rival or exceed Silicon Valley’s success. This report lays out some suggestions for how to accomplish these goals.
Technology entrepreneurship and company formation tends to cluster in certain regions in the United States and around the world. The GWR has many attributes that suggest it should be a predominant creator of high-growth technology businesses and a recognized and preferred location for entrepreneurs to start and grow important businesses. Nevertheless, the GWR is often seen as a less attractive and successful location for technology-related entrepreneurship than other nationally-recognized technology centers and Silicon Valley in particular. This report looks at M&A activity as an indication of regional strength and opportunity, and its conclusions challenge the perception that Silicon Valley is unique and not amenable to duplication or challenge by the GWR.
Section I of this report discusses the importance of M&A to a successful entrepreneurial community. Section II examines the broad M&A trends in six industry sectors that together include “technology businesses” — companies that rely on intellectual capital for their operations, growth or expansion. Section III provides a more granular view of each industry by identifying specific industry segments where acquisition activity has occurred. Section IV contains conclusions and a call to action for the GWR’s business leaders and entrepreneurs.
This week, Jonathan Aberman, Managing Director of TandemNSI, released a White Paper titled Building a Bigger Tent for Technology Innovators: The Government is More Creative than You Think. Below you will find the Executive Summary. Download the entire White Paper here.
United States national security agencies, particularly the Department of Defense, have struggled to keep up with the realities of creating and developing technology in the twenty-first century. These struggles jeopardize America’s ability to deter and respond to national security threats. Moreover, the growing disconnect between national security research and development, on the one hand, and startup entrepreneurship on the other threatens the US’s economic primacy. Some Pentagon officials have admitted that they do not understand how cyber security fits into the military mission, at the same time that foreign-based hackers and software developers intrude into civilian and government systems at a growing rate and damaging level. Others have acknowledged that the Defense Department’s acquisition apparatus is ill-equipped to keep up with the fast pace of technology development, even if our leaders completely understood how to apply new technologies.
In order to meet these challenges, the national security establishment must engage with and use the abilities of individuals and small businesses not currently part of the national security establishment. These “nontraditional performers” are entrepreneurial, fast-moving and, in many cases, developing technologies that outperform research and products from traditional defense industry sources. Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric once observed “when the rate of change inside an organization is less than the rate of change outside the end is in sight.” He wasn’t specifically taking about the national security agencies when he made that statement, but he could have been.
Engaging nontraditional performers is heavily constrained by federal contracting rules, institutional conservatism and government secrecy requirements. Each of these limits nontraditional performer engagement. Taken together, they provide an almost insurmountable challenge that many nontraditional performers are simply unwilling to attack.
U.S. national security agencies have experimented with several approaches to overcome existing constraints. For example, they have been successful with the Cyber Track Fast Track Program and their growing use of challenge prize competitions. U.S. Special Operations Command is relying on a unique program to engage nontraditional sources to develop the next generation combat suit for America’s elite Special Forces units. These programs put the lie to the idea that government cannot act nimbly. Moreover, these experimental approaches have resulted in nontraditional performer engagement and advanced national security interests.
The national security agencies now have the field-tested, successful templates they need to reach nontraditional performers. The issue now is how the agencies can take their experimental approaches and make them commonplace. The templates described in this Report show the richness of the approaches and opportunities. A growing national security crisis will occur if we do not act to apply them more effectively and broadly.