INSA Panel Sheds Light on Emerging Opportunities for 8(a) Businesses

April 07, 2021

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a panel hosted by the Intelligence and National Security Foundation (INSA). The event was sponsored by Booz Allen Hamilton, and discussed how 8(a) businesses can get started in the intelligence and national security market. The 8(a) Business Development Program is a business assistance program that offers support to firms that are owned and controlled at least 51 percent by socially or economically disadvantaged individuals.

During the panel, I joined Dr. James DeBardelaben, president and CEO of IvySys Technologies, in helping attendees understand how best to leverage the incredible opportunities the program provides. We were joined by Dale Rainey, Director of the Office of Small Business Programs at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency; and Karen Mumford, Director of the Small Business Program Office at the Defense Intelligence Agency.

As I mentioned during the session, the 8(a) Program has been critical to Wovenware’s ability to gain a foothold in government contracting within the national intelligence community; enabling us to undertake innovative computer vision and AI projects, sponsored by a major government contractor., our Prime sponsor. As was explained during the panel, participation in the program is divided into two phases over nine years: a four-year developmental stage and a five-year transition stage.

Programs, such as the 8(a) Business Development Program, provide young, eager companies with enormous opportunities to get a jumpstart, and showcase their talent and expand their reach into the intelligence community, along with other core markets. However, as I mentioned, being part of the program doesn’t guarantee contracts — that requires talent, strong skill-sets, hard work and perseverance — but it provides a leg up. We’ve gained valuable experience and proven our abilities in the government sector market, but we owe much of our success to the dedication of our Prime partner, which has helped us navigate the intricacies of this critical market.