Jim Roberts hopes the audience at Tuesday’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship with the Military seminar heard the “opportunity” message loud and clear.
Roberts, director of the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), invited three experts on doing business with the military to share information on how to get started.
“While North Carolina has been among the top three states with a military presence, it was among the bottom 10 states for doing business with the military,” Roberts said.
Brad Guay, manager of the Army Small Business Technology Transfer program, provided additional statistics.
“North Carolina is 10th in terms of state population, but it rates 18th per capita in terms of phase one proposals [to the ASBTT] and a proposal success rate of 13 percent – a ranking of 35th,” he told the capacity audience.
“I hope people were listening,” Roberts said after the seminar. “There’s lots of room for improvement.”
Guay outlined the kinds of technology-related business ideas the U.S. Department of Defense is looking for.
“The government is investing in over-the-horizon technologies that could be game changers," Guay said. "For example, we know that an octopus can change its coloration to match that of any environment. We’d like you to figure out how they do that.”
In addition to Guay, other speakers were T.A. “Mickey” Finn, strategic programs consultant for the N.C. Military Business Center (NCMBC), and John Panaccione, CEO of LogicBay and co-founder of Vet to CEO.
Finn told the audience that the NCMBC is likewise looking for products in areas such as big data, advanced analytics, cyber security, ground vehicles and robotics and bio technologies.
“We don’t care what you developed it for; we want to see what we can use. We buy everything that’s legal,” he said.
Panaccione – whose own business, LogicBay, is housed in the CIE – provided the perspective of a military veteran who has helped other vets start their own businesses through Vet to CEO
. LogicBay, which employs only military veterans, has benefited from business programs available to veterans, Panaccione said.
Founded 12 years ago, LogicBay specializes in partner relationship management technology. Panaccione collaborated with the Marion Kauffman Foundation to develop Vet to CEO, which provides information, entrepreneurship training and a blueprint for startup development on its website.