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Tech Transfer: Bridging the Gap Between the Abstract and Commercial Application

Ask most people to describe how their favorite app or gadget came to be, and you’ll get a version of the garage origin story, where a visionary genius and her team of misfits work all night, fueled by passion and coffee, to bring their idea to life. Sheer force of will and a lucky investor meeting is all it takes to make it, as long as you have the guts. A version like this story is told in the startup myths of tech giants like Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook: daring startups that happened to make it big.

Reality, of course, never quite measures up to the hype.

Ideas come to market in a variety of different ways – genius entrepreneur included – but much of the innovation we interact with day-to-day started as a question in an institution. Some are abstract, “How do we measure the temperature of a star?” while some are very specific, “How do we create a camera that fits in a small spacecraft?” And some, as in the case of both of those questions, end up having applications beyond their original purpose. It turns out that measuring star temperature at a distance works well for infrared thermometers and small cameras are great for phones as well as spacecraft.

Bridging the gap between the abstract and specialized questions, and their commercial application is a process known as tech transfer. In addition to thermometers and cameras, tech transfer has also brought us the internet, LASIK, cordless vacuums, and solar power.

The tech transfer process is typically implemented in three parts: design, prototype, and commercialization. In most institutions and government agencies, there is a formalized process for at least some part of that chain. Researchers may have to provide practical justification for budgets, or there may be a liaison office specifically seeking commercial technology applications. The results can be licensing agreements, joint ventures, or even new companies capitalized by public-private partnerships or direct investment.

The practical implications of this process are not just for large organizations on the cutting edges of their field. The Federal government, as well as many state agencies, have established funding and goals to create a pipeline in (and out) for innovative products.

Through programs like SBIR and STTR, they solicit best-in-class technology to solve problems ranging from reducing single-use plastics to better missile telemetry. In 2018, the federal government spent over 71 billion dollars at universities alone, a significant portion of which passed through spin-offs, joint ventures, or other partnerships.

Medium and small businesses, working directly or through an experienced prime contractor, can leverage their specific expertise to identify these tech transfer opportunities and create new markets. Although many of these tech transfer stories start out in a garage, the long term effects allow for endless possibilities. If you would like to learn more about working with an experienced prime contractor, contact us.

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3 Tips to Build Lasting Customer Relations

The key to establishing a relationship with our customers is to have a solid understanding of who they are. First, I do research on what their company offers, their products and/or services, and the industries they serve. This helps me understand what JetCo Federal can offer to each of our complex and unique customers. Also, I like to know what their mission statements and goals are so that I can align with them on a personal and professional level. My goal is always to build rapport quickly so that they see that we are responsive and attentive to their needs. There are three tips that I recommend for building productive customer relations:

  1. Treat others the way that you want to be treated. This is one of our core values, and we are intentional with how we communicate with our customers. I always try to put myself in their shoes before I respond via email, phone, or in person. In return they respect me, the company I represent, and ultimately, they appreciate the services that we offer their company.
  2. Smile through the phone. Display an infectious joy that they can feel over the phone, via email, and in person. Even when there are issues that need to be resolved, the goal is to always flood them with kindness and help in any productive way possible.
  3. Be Intentional. Put an effort into learning about your customers. Ask them questions about their family, weekend, vacations, etc. This allows for connections to develop, which ultimately helps with each interaction.

Customer Relations in the Government Contracting Industry

Keeping strong customer relations benefits our current business, as well as new business opportunities in the future.  As a customer service representative and accounts coordinator for JetCo Federal, my goal is to always be responsive, helpful, and productive. It is crucial to be open to learning more about our current order fulfillment processes, our current customers, and their products. In turn, productive customer service relations helps our sales, marketing, and operations teams achieve their goals in helping our customers win. Want to connect with our customer service? Contact our team today.

Students sitting in computer lab learning

Three Reasons to Invest in Employee Training

Training is defined as teaching or developing oneself in any skills or knowledge with goals of improving one’s capability, capacity, productivity, and performance. There are two types of employee training: onboarding and continued. Onboarding training introduces the employee to their position, as well as company inner workings. Continued training is education that employees complete throughout their employment, which ensures they continue learning new skills throughout their career.

Both onboarding and continued training are worth investing in for employees. Here’s why:

  1. Continued employee training is an investment not only in the employee, but in the company as a whole. Continued education can help employees bring new ideas to their role, which further advances the company overall. When people have the skills and knowledge to do their jobs, they are more productive. They work independently, innovate, and meet challenges as they come up. In a global economy that continues to evolve, the most successful companies will be those that adapt quickly and effectively. This starts with training employees in new skills and furthering their market education.
  2. Both initial onboarding training and continued training are crucial in an employee’s success and allow employees to advance in their career. Continuous employee training increases agility by encouraging them to think and understand quickly. One of the key reasons for training employees is that it keeps their knowledge fresh, their skills sharp, and their confidence booming. When your existing employees see that you’re investing in their growth, they can become more engaged in their work.
  3. Employee training is good for company culture. When employees are continuing their education together, it fosters collaboration and engagement. Each employee comes into the company with different levels of experience. Collaborative education allows employees to brainstorm together and bring new education into the mix. A learning culture supports market adaptation, innovation, and boosts overall employee engagement.

How does JetCo Federal incorporate training into our company culture?

At JetCo Federal, we recognize the importance of investing in our employees. We have implemented a strong training plan with a learning management platform and incorporate designated time for training.

We push our employees to be their best selves, both personally and professionally. We give them tools for personal financial sustainability, and we charge them with building professional development plans we can support. We believe our employees are the core of our success.

To read more about what we offer our employees, visit our career page.


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The Benefits of a Selective Bid Process

When the government issues a solicitation, there are a few ways to decide if it should go into your proposal pipeline or be quickly dismissed. A thorough understanding of how the contracting officer will be evaluating the responses is one of the best ways to know if your company has a shot at a winning bid.

Reviewing solicitation text can be overwhelming but understanding the government’s evaluation methods can help your company select opportunities that give you a distinct competitive advantage.

Bid Evaluation Criteria

There are multiple ways the government decides which criteria are important. In federal solicitations, evaluation criteria are laid out in section M, and it describes exactly where you need to invest your efforts when creating a proposal. This section is typically found towards the end of the solicitation.

The two most common types of proposal evaluations seen are LPTA (Lowest Price, Technically Acceptable) and best value solicitations. Commodity and non-complex products are typically procured using the LPTA evaluation criteria described in FAR Part 15.101-2. They are awarded solely on if you are the lowest price, assuming your product matches what the agency is procuring.

When the government is procuring a less definitive, more complex requirement, or has a greater risk potential, the proposal will be evaluated under the best value criteria described in FAR 15.101. Under the best value criteria, proposals are scored based on weighted criteria, typically:

  • Technical Capability
  • Price
  • Past Performance

By knowing and understanding how the contracting officer or committee will weigh each of the listed criteria, you can place an equal amount of effort into your response.

It is important to note that if it is not listed in the evaluation criteria, it will not be reviewed. In fact, adding extra information makes it more difficult for the evaluating contracting officer or committee to review your response. If you are not granted the award and come to learn that the awardee was chosen based on criteria not listed, you have grounds for a post-award protest.

Being selective when it comes to deciding which solicitations to bid on is the best way to increase your win rate, spend less time writing proposals, and ultimately make more money.

If you know that your business has the lowest price on the product the government is procuring, then these may be good opportunities for you. However, we have found that most of the time these are a race to the bottom with small quantities and low margins.

If you place more of your efforts on being the best and not necessarily the lowest price option, review the evaluation criteria before anything else in the solicitation. Choose only the ones that allow you to explain to the contracting officer how your solution is the best option for their needs. By responding with a proposal that offers an exceptional or new solution, you may open a dialog with the purchaser for future opportunities.

At JetCo, we specialize in responding to unique and difficult opportunities with custom products, multiple shipping locations, and opportunities where our logistics and past performance can stand out.

Best value evaluation criteria allow us to pitch our solution as best-in-class, with much less risk to the buying agency. Our understanding of the FAR procurement rules allows us to select the opportunities that give us and our subcontractors a competitive advantage, and a better probability of bringing home an award.

If you are looking to sell to the government, but are concerned about wading through the endless FAR clauses, compliance, and payment structure, connect with our team today.