Hopefuls have ten minutes to present their ideas and five minutes for questions from the judges. The objective is to sell the judges on their great technology and the potential for a large reward for the winner. Is this the popular show Shark Tank? Well…yes and no.
There is a dire need for technology innovations within the DoD maintenance and sustainment fields. That need isn’t just an Army or Air Force need; it spans all Services and beyond, to the DLA and OSD. With a mission of collaborating with government and industry to try and fill those technology gaps, NCMS began the CTMA Technology Competition to create opportunities for small and medium-sized companies to bring technology to the decision-makers in an engaging and lively format.
Unlike the popular reality show, the CTMA Technology Competition brings together industry, government, and academia to review technologies that have already been validated, have a current commercial value, and the judges are all government decision-makers. While there may be a bit of friendly competition, the questions from the judges are of interest rather than gauntlet-like. Also, the technology is already proven in the commercial realm, so the emphasis is on how it can be modified to answer the needs of the military.
“The shark tank format was novel—as the judges began asking questions…I could sense the engagement from everyone in the room,” says Maria Beemer, Project Engineer with Thermal Wave Imaging, the 2017 CTMA Technology Competition winner. “I will definitely participate again.”
Matthew Nichols of Honeywell Sensing and Productivity Solutions, who presented for the first time in 2016, was pleased that his brief won the competition that year and would participate again. His technology, the Voice-Directed Inspection Maintenance System (VIMS), which allows for hands-free data input, was a clear favorite at the event.
“I was impressed at the interest of the U.S. military and the proactive work to adopt new technology,” says Nichols.
During the CTMA Partners Meeting, six selected industry briefs are presented in front of a panel of judges. These industry members have the opportunity to put their best foot forward and outline why their commercially-ready technologies should be considered by the panel of DoD decision-makers.
“The event surpassed my expectations! As a newbie ‘shark’ at last year’s competition, it upped my understanding of what technologies are available,” says Janice Bryant, Strategic Innovation Manager at NAVSEA’s Tactical and Implementation Lab. “The energy was great. I didn’t anticipate how fun it would be. If asked, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”
The DoD has seen some incredibly innovative new technologies through the CTMA Technology Competition and has been introduced to companies and their abilities that might have otherwise gone unnoticed. The technology adoption has also helped U.S. companies grow, adding to their workforce, their competitiveness globally, and the resources to enhance their R&D.
As a testament to the popularity of the event, at least 60 maintenance innovations are received each year vying for the coveted six spots. Each interested party must submit a 500 word or less abstract plus a quad chart that illustrates the level of innovation, overall benefits, ability to deploy the technology within 12 months, and strength of the team. The winner receives a high-profile demonstration opportunity that showcases their technology. The winning technology is also spotlighted in the CTMA Magazine, the NCMS website, and NCMS news emails.
“CTMA is one of the only mechanisms that moves as fast as they do. Getting a technology to demonstration within 45 days is almost unheard of. I truly believe that it is mission critical to see how we can leverage the expertise that we discover through this collaboration,” says Bryant.