DoD values North Carolina: here's how DEFTECH contributes to national security

With billions of Department of Defense dollars spent in North Carolina, entities like DEFTECH are helping local companies win lucrative federal contracts.

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By Abbey Slattery, WRAL Digital Solutions
This article was written for our sponsor, North Carolina Military Business Center (NCMBC).
With an annual impact of $66 billion, the Department of Defense is the second largest sector of the North Carolina economy, making up 12% of the state’s gross domestic product, according to a 2015 report from the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

DEFTECH, an entity of the North Carolina Military Business Center, connects North Carolina’s high-tech, innovative businesses with these valuable DoD contracts. By growing an already profitable sector of the economy, DEFTECH supports the drive to create jobs, raise the tax base and improve the overall quality of life within the state.

While the NCMBC focuses on standard acquisition opportunities through and GSA, DEFTECH focuses on funding opportunities requiring science, technology, research and development solutions such as small business innovation research programs (SBIR) and Other Transaction Authority simplified acquisitions to acquire rapid prototypes or commercial off the shelf solutions to solve immediate and complex problems (Technology Transition).

“We have a common motto that guides us: ‘We innovate better when we innovate together.’ North Carolina has the right mix of people, businesses, academic institutions and culture to make us attractive partners for the DoD,” said Denny Lewis, director of DEFTECH. “As a State organization, all of our services are free and we hope more innovation businesses will continue to join our network.”

It’s true that all of the ingredients are present in North Carolina, as the state is home to seven major military installations, more than 100 universities and colleges and a smattering of startups and major corporations. Already, there are a number of lucrative DoD contracts through institutions like the University of North Carolina and Duke University.

DEFTECH helps inform NC’s high-tech companies about business opportunities and promotes teaming among companies and academic institutions. In addition to supporting local businesses, DEFTECH supports the DoD’s ongoing search for game-changing technologies to provide national defenders a technological advantage over our potential adversaries. Through education, outreach, networking and liaison, DEFTECH enables elements of the North Carolina innovation ecosystem to address complex national security problems.

“A recent summary of the Department of Defense’s national defense strategy discussed accelerating force development and getting the technology to the troops more quickly. That's one area DEFTECH support comes into play by connecting local innovators with local troops and other DoD organizations,” said Bob Burton, senior manager at DEFTECH. “We look at the strategic, the operational and the tactical picture, and through our military experience, help our commercial partners understand how their commercial technologies or approaches can support that.”

Oftentimes, helping make the connection between a business’ technology and a federal need can be as simple as making a slight modification to a commercial technology. Sometimes DoD can use the commercial technology as it is.

Since DEFTECH employees have experience serving in the government, armed forces and industry, they’re able to help companies identify useful technologies and connect them with DoD opportunities.

“We want to help our businesses understand the DoD customer experience or customer journey. First of all, who's the customer? Is it a warfighter or a homeland defender? It’s important for industry to understand the jobs that need to be done, and the operational environment they have to complete that task, then build awareness of these technology opportunities to increase teaming, increase submissions and increase wins,” said Burton. “It’s looking at the threat landscape, then fostering that innovation through our various platforms, so that we can get technology into the hands of warfighters and homeland defenders.”

The platforms Burton refers to include things like DEFTECH’s weekly coffee calls, which bring together leaders in industry, academia and government to discuss innovations and opportunities; DEFTECH’s podcast, Defense Technology Talks, which features interviews with everyone from professors to former and current military leaders; and the Mobilize app, which allows for collaboration and networking among members. These resources connect North Carolina businesses with federal contract opportunities and each other.

Through these networks, Lewis, Burton and the rest of the DEFTECH team can facilitate connections between relevant innovative technology and federal needs. By growing the DEFTECH network, the potential for federal spending in North Carolina also grows — as well as the chance to play a part in bolstering national security.

“Through our efforts, we hope to increase business opportunities within North Carolina and help the DoD decrease risk. We routinely share information about leap-ahead technologies and approaches within our ecosystem to national security customers, and we share national security business opportunities with our members” said Burton.

This article was written for our sponsor, North Carolina Military Business Center (NCMBC).

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