funding mechanisms? Discussion continued on this topic. Others in the audience believed that a small company would pursue such a prize if it knew it could develop the technology for, say, one tenth the amount of the prize. Another attendee said there might be technologies that cost more to pursue than could be recouped by winning a prize, and she was curious whether the investment community would want to be involved. Other attendees felt that equity markets would not fund small businesses to pursue prizes but that individual investors would. Investors would have to be sold on specific ventures. A small business might be able to raise money from a certain kind of investor, who would feel that he or she was participating in an exciting new venture. Most investors would not want to structure an entire company based on that type of funding, but others might be interested despite the risk. The biotechnology industry is one example of an area in which a lot of investors are taking risks.
Jim Ryder from Lockheed Martin began by mentioning several ideas that would be good ones to discuss in this format and setting. He believed that large companies were not all that different from small companies in many respects. From a large company perspective or a small company perspective, technology development is similar: It is competitive. The technology has to be vigorously connected to the business and must have a good effect on the bottom line. It must bring a new capability to bear that dramatically alters cost or performance or simply helps to solve a difficult problem. What is different for a large company is that it must balance its responsibility to its shareholders with the role it plays as a national resource. Ryder maintained that small businesses broadened the resources of the United States and helped utilize the skills of the best and brightest.
Ryder went on to directly answer several of the focusing questions provided to the panelists by the steering committee. His remarks were based on discussions with several staff members at Lockheed Martin. The first question asked of large businesses concerned the appropriate use of competitive and noncompetitive awards. Ryder replied that, from the large business perspective, competitive solicitations and awards should be used in the event of multiple, legitimate, capable, and credible bidders and when the procurement schedule permits. After all, he said, the companies and their employees were taxpayers who ultimately wanted to receive the best value for their money. Competition can do that by bringing out good ideas. Noncompetitive awards are appropriate when there is a clear concentration of capability, whether that be an intellectual capability or a physical facility.
Another question was whether government organizations or centers should compete directly against industry. If so, what guidelines and constraints should apply? Ryder believed that government and industry should not compete for the same funding but should instead work together. He mentioned an example of a successful partnership between NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, industry, and academia on an important problem internal to NASA. In this situation, Lockheed Martin is teaming with industry and universities, not competing to win. Ryder mentioned the inverse situation, in which large companies competed with small ones but incorporated the university and NASA center perspective.