Agility, partnerships highlighted at industry event

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Businesses got insight into more than 400 opportunities worth $12.2 billion at the annual Briefing for Industry held Aug. 17-19 at Albuquerque Hotel in Old Town.

BFI provides information to the government contracting community on upcoming and proposed acquisitions from the many and varied federal organizations operating in New Mexico.  The event is sponsored by the non-profit Professional Aerospace Contractors Association of New Mexico, led by Ron Unruh.

"It was a huge success," Unruh said. "It's a very unique event where networking venues are created and there are opportunities for dialogue between companies and those with contract opportunities."

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez opened the event, discussing her vision and efforts towards making New Mexico attractive for new businesses.  She said there have been reforms to help diversify the state's economy, allowing it to compete with neighboring states and making it more attractive to job creators who hire New Mexicans.

More than 26 federal agencies presented their upcoming opportunities, including small business innovative research projects, broad agency announcements and major acquisitions.

BFI provides a forum for potential bidders to gain knowledge and insights for a successful bid and offers opportunities to speak directly with the presenters about their programs.  Air Force Research Laboratory officials called BFI one of the laboratory's key industry outreach events to share a diverse portfolio of opportunities to help address the Air Force's technical challenges.

Maj. Gen. Thomas Masiello, commander of AFRL at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and opening keynote speaker, told guests the theme of AFRL's presentations at the event were that the Air Force and the Department of Defense needs to do things faster and better than ever before.

"We have to shake things up," the general said. "We can no longer be business as usual. Just because we've had technological superiority for the past 20 years, doesn't mean that we'll continue to have it."

He said the United States is facing competition in research and development from potential adversaries, who have been making progress towards leveling the playing field.  Space, cyber and the electromagnetic spectrum are increasingly contested.

"Our enemies have the ability to challenge us in ways that were never possible before," he said. "Our greatest challenge is to be able to respond faster than our adversaries. We have to adapt and be flexible."

The general emphasized partnerships with large and small businesses and universities, and leveraging science and systems engineering as a path to deliver advanced Air Force capabilities while lowering life cycle costs.

There were more than 430 registered attendees at the event, representing 26 different states. Unruh said plans are to continue to grow and expand the annual conference.