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Communicating with Gate Keepers

DoD Topics

We are anticipating the next SBIR/STTR Department of Defense (DoD) topics pre-release due December 1. Recall, pre-release is the time to engage topic managers and potential customers. But with only 15 minutes or less of a person’s time, what can you accomplish? Below are some tips to consider:

Identify current and past solutions with details on what is not working for this customer. For DoD, SBIR/STTR awards are contracts. A contract requires specific deliverables and milestones that align with your customer’s goals. With details on quantifiable outcomes and barriers for adoption, you can construct a stronger proposal with contractual, quantifiable goals.

  • Ask: 1) What are you trying to do? 2) How is it done today, and what are the limits of current approaches?

Identify R&D efforts that can deliver a solution in 18-24 months. The DoD wants to deploy solutions for current migraines. Your feasibility studies should move forward a minimally viable product in this time frame. Understanding Technology Readiness Level (TRL) descriptions can provide the context to discuss an incremental progression of your solution aligned with funding.

  • Ask: 1) What are the expected TRLs for a solution at the end of a project? 2) What are the risks? 3) Who utilizes and supports implementation of the solution?

Create, test and refine your expected value/benefits based on the needs of your customer. Your technology is not the value! In asking the questions above, you identify jobs, pains and gains for your solution/technology. Too often, your customers are not the technical experts. Make it easy for them to engage by succinctly parroting their needs and a solution. Use tools like quad charts, capabilities statements and elevator pitch formats to deliver a tight argument for your busy customer.

These tips are inspired by the Tech Warrior Spark OPS event. Luckily you too can be inspired by watching the recordings available online.

The CTC is your Wisconsin resource helping you navigate the growing world of DoD innovation funding. Check out our upcoming events and reach out for resources towards the December SBIR/STTR pre-release.