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How to Connect with Prime Contractors: An Interview with Lockheed Martin

October 31st, 2017 | by Jayne Berkaw

If you are planning to or have already submitted an SBIR/STTR proposal to the Dept. of Defense you probably have a keen interest in learning how to connect with prime contractors. Primes provide small businesses with various assistance during different phases of their SBIR/STTR projects; including supporting technology requirements, evaluation, co-development, and insertion into larger systems.Dept. of Defense you probably have a keen interest in learning how to connect with prime contractors. Primes provide small businesses with various assistance during different phases of their SBIR/STTR projects; including supporting technology requirements, evaluation, co-development, and insertion into larger systems.

Recently BBCetc’s top DOD SBIR consultant, Becky Aistrup, interviewed Lockheed Martin’s (LM) Orysia Buchan, Supplier Diversity Government Programs Manager, to learn more about how SBIR/STTR companies can engage with LM. Here’s what she found out:

BBCetc: Why is the SBIR/STTR program important/interesting to LM and how does LM engage small companies via the SBIR/STTR program?

LM: Lockheed Martin engages with small businesses through the Federal Government’s SBIR/STTR Program to assist small businesses in the development of novel and innovative technologies to bring these emerging technologies to the company’s products and services. We leverage federal agency R&D funding to assist with the advancement of innovative technologies that align to current and future program needs. The transition of technologies into programs of record ultimately can drive affordability into legacy and emerging programs and helps bridge the technology gap between current technologies and future innovation.

BBCetc: How do you identify topics of interest and how do companies learn more about those topics?

LM: Lockheed Martin established a process for small businesses to follow to explore potential partnership opportunities with the company. We encourage qualifying small businesses with a SBIR/STTR technology project or concept that is compatible with Lockheed Martin technology interests and needs to email to request to be added to the Lockheed Martin SBIR Email Distribution List. The purpose of this distribution list is to connect small businesses with the appropriate Lockheed Martin technical points of contacts to explore opportunities for partnership and innovation. For each Department of Defense (DOD) solicitation, and many of the non-DOD agency solicitations, Lockheed Martin reviews its internal topics of interest and then shares those topics of interest, complete with a point of contact and email address with its distribution list. The goal is for SBIR firms to contact a Lockheed Martin point of contact for topics of mutual interest. Click here for a sample of the LM topic list from the DOD solicitations closing October 25, 2017.

When contacting Lockheed Martin on a specific solicitation topic, Lockheed Martin will decide if a letter of support will be written for the SBIR firm. If one is written, it generally takes at least 10 business days, but may take up to one month to receive. The SBIR firm is advised if Lockheed Martin is or is not interested in partnering.

A SBIR firm may include the this chart and email it to if they have a technology not aligned with a solicitation but is compatible with Lockheed Martin technologies and is interested in partnering with Lockheed Martin on a project. SBIR firms should not share any proprietary, export controlled, confidential or classified information in this email. The information will then be sent to appropriate SBIR leads across the corporation to determine interest.

BBCetc: What is the optimum way for a company to engage with LM for a Phase I proposal? Phase II? OR What roles can LM play in a Phase I or Phase II project?

LM: Lockheed Martin is made up of four separate business units. These business units are built around the unique products, platforms and/or services that they provide to their customers. Likewise, our corporate SBIR team has technical and small business representation from each of our four business units. Our entire SBIR team follows a rigorous and coordinated process of how we make initial engagements with small businesses pursuing a Phase I award.

SBIR team members lead a specific effort based on the technology development being pursued and how the maturation and eventual transition of that technology fits into the product, platform or service of that Lockheed Martin business unit. Once these initial engagements are defined, usually during the Phase I solicitation response period, the SBIR team can build on the relationship in the manner that best fits their business unit. The relationship during the Phase I period of performance are generally determined by factors such as the size of the acquisition program where the technology would be transitioned, if there is existing parallel work and subject matter experts to champion the effort, and the priority of the technology being developed and where it resides in a technology roadmap.

As the project moves from a Phase I to a Phase II, and possibly a Phase III, is really determined by three dependent factors:

  1. The technical success of the project in the Phase I period of performance;
  2. The early identification and buy-in of a technology transition plan; and
  3. The strength of the personal relationships built during each phase of a project as it progresses towards transition.

Without technical success, or at the very least the belief the innovation will eventually be realized, any SBIR project will not move forward. Similarly, interest and sponsorship internally will lessen even with a project that meets or exceeds technical milestones unless a transition plan to a Lockheed Martin product, platform or service is identified. The earlier in the SBIR project’s lifecycle that a transition plan is determined, the greater opportunity for success. It is very important for small businesses and Lockheed Martin representatives to build strong personal relationships over the SBIR project’s lifespan. The Lockheed Martin SBIR team prides itself in not only being technically sound and project oriented. The team members also serve as mentors and care about the individuals that we work with from small businesses to support the SBIR project through completion.

BBCetc: Is LM interested in being a subcontractor to the small business on Phase II for testing or other aspects of the project?

LM: Lockheed Martin is an active supporter of the SBIR/STTR programs. Whether working as a subcontractor or a technology mentor, Lockheed Martin assists small businesses during distinct phases of their SBIR/STTR projects, including: supporting technology requirements, evaluation, co-development and insertion into larger systems. Lockheed Martin assists SBIR firms in the development of novel and innovative technologies to integrate these emerging technologies in to the company’s products and services.

BBCetc: What advice do you give to small companies who are not deeply familiar with how to work with DoD or a Prime Contractor?

LM: Do your homework. Review DOD and prime contractor websites as it pertains to SBIR. Importantly, if looking to partner with a government prime, get involved as early as possible to ensure there is a potential opportunity in a certain technology area.


Becky Aistrup is a Managing Partner and chief DOD specialist at BBCetc

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Using the DoD Topic Description to Do Your Homework

September 11th, 2017 | by Becky Aistrup

If you are interested in winning SBIR/STTR proposals from Department of Defense, you probably know the importance of talking to the Technical Point of Contact (TPOC) or Topic Author during the “open period” before you write your proposal*. You will want to ask any questions or details about the topic itself, and use the discussion

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Writing your NIH SBIR/STTR Specific Aims: Impact is Key!

July 25th, 2017 | by Andrea Johanson

We have found that the best first step in developing an SBIR/STTR proposal is to draft the one-page Specific Aims document. This section is the most important page in your proposal. In it you should state concisely the goals of the proposed research and summarize the expected outcomes, including the impact that the results of

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Tips on Writing Your Commercialization Plan

June 22nd, 2017 | by Michael Kurek

Martin Zwilling, CEO of Startup Professionals, is one of my favorite bloggers on wide-ranging topics of interest to entrepreneurs and small business owners. One of his recent articles “13 Red Flags to Avoid in Your Investor Funding Pitch” contains solid advice for your SBIR/STTR commercialization plan, as well as your investor pitch. In addition to

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The Support Provider’s Dilemma: Is this Person Coachable?

May 24th, 2017 | by Jayne Berkaw

If you’re an entrepreneur seeking to improve your chances of winning SBIR/STTR funding for your technology, ask yourself this: Are you coachable? According to author and international consultant, Timothy R. Clark, “Coachability is the willingness to be corrected and to act on that correction. When we are coachable, we are prepared to be wrong. We

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Who Needs SBIR/STTR Training Anyway??

April 20th, 2017 | by Jayne Berkaw

One of the first things we advise our clients or prospective clients to do as they look forward to preparing a competitive SBIR/STTR proposal is to give themselves a leg up by starting off with some training. Lots of people don’t think they need training before they embark on the complex proposal preparation process. Maybe

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Top 10 Brilliant Ideas and Stupid Mistakes: Secrets of Phase II Proposal Success

March 15th, 2017 | by Lisa Kurek

Last month, we outlined our top 10 dos and don’ts for getting your Phase I NIH proposal in shape and ready to submit before the April 5 deadline. This month we continue that theme by presenting what we have determined, over years of reviewing proposals, to be our top 10 brilliant ideas or stupid mistakes

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10 Dos and Don’ts for Your Phase I NIH Proposal

February 2nd, 2017 | by Lisa Kurek

If you’re planning to submit for the April 5 NIH SBIR/STTR deadline, now is the time to start laying out the steps you’ll need to take to get your polished, compelling Phase I proposal submitted before the deadline. Over the years, BBCetc consultants have reviewed a great many NIH proposals and accumulated a long list

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Match Your Product to Agency Mission for SBIR/STTR Success

December 9th, 2016 | by Michael Kurek

Finding the best agency to fund your new product idea can be frustrating. You’ve identified a market need and know exactly how to solve the problem of your preferred target customer. The only catch is that the agency does not share your enthusiasm for the proposed product or its market potential. How to proceed? First

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Post-Award Changes Don’t Have to Be Daunting

November 11th, 2016 | by Kris Bergman

You’ve submitted an SBIR/STTR proposal and have been awarded. Great news, right? But before you receive any money something in your company changes from that portrayed in your proposal. Panic time? Not necessarily. Agencies recognize that the budget presented in your application is somewhat “experimental,” and between the time you submit and receive any money,

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