Navy, small businesses talk R&D opportunities at industry day

Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) Lakehurst joined approximately 130 members of small business for the third annual Lakehurst Small Business Roundtable Industry Day at the Ocean County Library in Toms River, New Jersey Oct. 18.

The industry day, hosted by the Lakehurst Small Business Roundtable, focused on opportunities in Research and Development (R&D) under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

“Our purpose for the SBIR program is to get technical solutions to the hands of our Warfighters – our Sailors and Marines,” said Department of the Navy SBIR/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Director Robert Smith, one of two keynote speakers.

Smith provided an overview of the SBIR program, resources small businesses can use to guide them through the process and examples of successful Navy SBIR projects.

“SBIR, if properly managed, is used throughout the acquisition cycle. The Navy gets it. We do that. It’s not just to make the next thing better. It’s to make sure what we have is good and even better,” said Smith.

Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) SBIR Program Manager Donna H. Attick talked about the NAVAIR mission and the nuances of NAVAIR’s SBIR process during her keynote.

“NAVAIR’s role in naval aviation is around the development, acquisition and the support of aircraft and weapons systems that operate and are sustained at sea,” said Attick. “SBIR can play in all of those areas.”

Attick provided advice on how small businesses can improve their chances of being chosen for a SBIR contract to include focusing on saving weight, increasing speed, improving performance and reducing costs.

“The most successful SBIRs that we see really have form-fit functions,” said Attick. “They can take what’s there that’s existing, take that off, put something in, and plug the new item right on. The integration is so much easier to be able to do that.”

Representatives from NAWCAD Lakehurst provided an overview of technology areas where SBIR projects could be applied, past SBIR success stories and upcoming opportunities.

“Industry Days like this one are a great way for small businesses to learn what opportunities NAWCAD Lakehurst has and gives them a chance to align themselves to meet those requirements,” said NAWCAD Lakehurst Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP) Deputy Director Dawn Chartier. “This could include teaming or partnering with other small businesses they network with at these meetings. It also gives them the opportunity to speak to the NAWCAD Lakehurst acquisition personnel to discuss some of these future opportunities.”

“For NAWCAD Lakehurst it gives us the chance to meet with the small businesses and see what skills and products they can provide, thus giving us a better understanding of what they can do to help us meet our mission,” said Chartier.

The small business perspective was captured during a panel session of small businesses who had partnered with the Navy through the SBIR program.

“This particular event, the industry day in October, is very important because we get a chance to bring the small businesses in to meet the government personnel off the base in a forum, where we can get everybody together for the whole day to talk about things of common interest that really benefit all the stakeholders,” said Chair of the Lakehurst Small Business Roundtable Brad Mead.

The event ended with a period of networking between the government and small business representatives.

“This year we really want to get the small businesses interested in SBIRs, thinking about SBIRs, participating in SBIRs, learning about SBIRs, and getting as much information as they could about them,” said Mead.

Presentations from the Small Business Industry Day will be made available on the Lakehurst Small Business Roundtable website.