Submitted By: Elisa Waldman, Dean, Continuing EducationProgram Contact: Ellen Clickner, Program Coordination, Kansas Small Business Development CenterPhone: 913-469-3878Email: EClickne@jccc.edu
The Kansas Small Business Development Center at Johnson County Community College hosted Encountering Innovation Week from September 23-27, 2019. This event provided over 150 innovators from 10 different states with the opportunity to present and showcase their technology to Federal technology scouts and the public. Technology scouts from the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, NASA and various government agencies listened to approximately 80 pitches, examined poster 85 board displays, discussed government needs, and networked with innovators during lunches and evening networking sessions.
Through these connections, innovators will gain feedback and direction, and their innovation might be selected for socialization among government agencies and for fast-track contracting. Federal technology scouts attend the conference in order to find innovative solutions to immediate government needs. They also seek a broader range of innovations that will resolve operational challenges and/or save costs. Typical innovations are products that can assist the federal government in medical, cyber, operations, and power and energy industries. After hearing the innovator pitches and reviewing poster boards, the Federal tech scouts "socialize" innovations of interest to different branches of government that need and can support commercialization of the technology. The Director of the Air Force Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program was the featured guest speaker for the Poster Board event on September 23rd. Throughout the week, the JCCC SBDC offered the following 8 educational workshops on innovation and technology commercialization to conference attendees and the public: The Goldsmith Model for Technology Commercialization, Accounting for Government Contracts, Intellectual Property Considerations for Innovation, Sales and Lead Management for Innovation, Market Research for Innovation, Competing for Government Contracts, Manufacturing Innovation and Exporting Innovation.
Encountering Innovation Week supports technology commercialization. Innovators often do not know how to commercialize or market their product. In preparation for this week-long opportunity, innovators work closely with a technology advisor from the Kansas Small Business Development Center (or their state SBDC if outside of Kansas), assessing the technology readiness level (TRL) of their innovation and preparing their pitch and poster board. The SBDC advisor assists the innovator in preparing a quad chart, which summarizes their invention, as well as financial projections and feasibility of the project moving forward. During the pitch to the tech scouts, the innovator is questioned by the technology scouts, and together, the scouts and innovator often envision applications for the technology that had not already been contemplated. This conference brings together all of the players needed to commercialize technology which is invaluable to the government and private industry. Innovators walk away with education targeted to technology commercialization, action items and allies in the Federal government willing to support, connect and invest in the innovations. This conference is unique in that it brings a wealth of information and resources at a reasonable cost to innovators who do not where to turn for assistance; without these resources and encouragement, many of these innovators would likely cease pursuing technologies that will change the world.
This program provides an exceptional professional development opportunity for the entire Continuing Education staff at the College to learn about technology commercialization. Not only do members of the Kansas Small Business Development Center team assist in preparing the innovators for the pitch and poster board sessions, but many members of the Continuing Education staff volunteered as scribes and time keepers during the pitches to the tech scouts. This is a unique opportunity (not open to the public) for the staff to better understand how the government does business and supports technology commercialization.
This program brings private innovators and government tech scouts together on our campus. We are able to expand the footprint of the College's support of cutting-edge technology commercialization throughout the 10 states in attendance and within the Federal government.
The Kansas Small Business Development Center is a grant-funded program through the SBA, Kansas Department of Commerce, and Johnson County Community College. The Encountering Innovation Week program is self-supporting and profitable, yielding about $25,000 in gross revenue.
Encountering Innovation Week can most certainly be replicated in other states. The partnerships required are all available public resources; the collaboration between resources is a win-win for all involved. We welcomed innovators and resources from 10 states, and we are currently in talks with several of these states to help them replicate the program. One state, Nebraska, held a mini-conference in order to prepare their innovators for the larger Encountering Innovation Week 2019.