HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Hanscom AFB small business and contracting experts shared ideas and resources with local business leaders at a Hanscom Representatives Association event on November 1.
Andrea Panagoulias, director of small business programs here, and Kristina Botelho, contracts manager in the Digital Directorate, joined members of the Massachusetts APEX Accelerator, General Services Administration and Cryptology and Cybersystems Division command, control, communications, intelligence and networks. Commercial Programs Office for a Hybrid Panel HRA at the University of Massachusetts Lowell Applied Research Corporation’s Northstar campus in Lincoln, Massachusetts. The discussion covered the value of market research, recent changes in small business legislation, security clearance requirements for joint ventures, and a variety of other topics.
Panagoulias emphasized the importance of market research for planning acquisitions and contracts. She said her office encourages early and frequent engagement with industry and program offices to increase awareness of specific mission needs, as well as the capabilities, solution sets and types of businesses that could be able to meet these needs. With this information, Panagoulias said his office can then advise on aspects of acquisition strategies for small businesses.
“We are trying to mobilize industry organizations in the region,” she said. “If there’s a really important request for information, an industry day or a RFP project that’s in the works that we know will generate a lot of interest, we’ll send it to the HRA and the Lexington-Concord Section of AFCEA to ensure that the industry knows what is happening at Hanscom and is aware of potential opportunities.
Botelho also highlighted the value of government and industry engagement, saying “collider events” and other networking opportunities are “where government, innovation and small business connect.”
“I try to be that person that small businesses can go to and ask the tough questions they’re afraid to ask other people,” she said. “That’s what I’m really passionate about: trying to make Department of Defense contracts as easy as possible for small startups.”
Panelists from the Massachusetts APEX Accelerator and GSA also shared how their organizations work to facilitate collaboration between government and industry.
Stanley Grip, procurement specialist at Massachusetts APEX Accelerator, highlighted Bid Match, a Boolean search engine from APEX Accelerator that helps match business capabilities with open solicitations in the Federal Register, as well as in state registries participating state and local governments. Relevant solicitation links are then emailed directly to businesses, Grip said, saving valuable time.
Mike D’Alessandro, branch chief for Air Force and Space Force accounts in GSA’s Office of Customer and Stakeholder Engagement, provided details on the market research as a service of the GSA, which it says offers a “free, fast and high quality” market. research to GSA customers and helps streamline the information request process.
In addition to presentations from each of the panelists, the HRA event also included a Q&A session with in-person and virtual attendees.
Zakiya Norris, small business specialist in the Cryptology and Cyber Systems Division’s Small Business Programs office, explained how offices like hers serve as a bridge to help the industry connect with contracting officers, managers program and other government officials, as well as helping connect small businesses. capabilities to potential end users.
The final takeaway from the roundtable is that the Department of the Air Force is working to maximize small business participation in support of the mission, Panagoulias said.
“I hope this event showed how all of our panelists and their organizations support the Hanscom acquisitions community, as well as small businesses,” said HRA President Natasha Ludwig. “I think this event is really helpful for our members and I hope everyone takes advantage of the resources discussed.”
To contact the Hanscom Small Business Programs office, email Panagoulias at email@example.com.
HRA brings together representatives from small, large and startups in the Hanscom AFB region to encourage collaboration in the acquisition process. More information about HRA can be found at hanscom-reps.org.