SAIC: Bridging the Gap Between Startups and Federal Agencies

A new venture at SAIC, #13 on this year’s BGOV200, is bringing cutting-edge technology to government contracting.

What happens when you combine innovative startup culture with an established leader in government contracting? In 2018, Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) set out to answer that question with the launch of its Innovation Factory, displaying the kind of forward thinking that lands the technology and government services organization among the top companies on the BGOV200.

“We saw a need to build and show rather than articulate in proposals what we can do for our customers,” says Josh Jackson, executive vice president and general manager of SAIC’s Solutions and Technology Group.

An agile approach enables SAIC to develop minimum viable products in a matter of days, rather than the weeks or months it might take in a traditional procurement cycle. Key areas of focus include modernizing software applications, cloud migration, and analytics.

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The Innovation Factory ecosystem takes a “hub and spoke” approach – the hub is SAIC’s Reston, Virginia, headquarters, while its satellite locations in various incubators and tech development areas around the country, such as the Capital Factory in Austin, Texas, represent the spokes.

“By collaborating with startup communities we’re able to harness emerging technologies from small, two- and three-person startups and bring it into our solutions,” Jackson says.

Through these partnerships, SAIC aims to fill the gap between startups and government clients. Startups have the cutting-edge technology, but they often lack experience working with federal agencies.

“Our role is harnessing the energy and passion on the tech side in the incubators and then building a bridge to some of our government customers’ complex missions to help them integrate that technology,” Jackson says.

Since the Innovation Factory launch, SAIC has worked to solidify its presence in the startup community. In March, the company participated in the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference & Festivals for the first time, where SAIC leadership appeared in panel discussions. And more recently, Chief Technology Officer Charles Onstott took pitches at Austin Startup Week.

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The next steps will be expanding to other locations that have both a strong tech incubation community and relevance to SAIC customers and their work, Jackson says, citing Orlando, Florida, where SAIC already has a presence, and Boston, Massachusetts, as examples.

“The feedback that we’ve gotten to date has been very positive,” he adds. “Using design thinking approaches, we’re building solutions in a context that suits the mission and end user almost immediately.”

Other companies on the BGOV200 interested in sharing their story can contact us here.