Technology Acceleration Project

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Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center (TMAC )

Project title: Technology Acceleration
Proposed project duration: 3 years
Year 1 funding from NIST MEP: $850,000
Year 1 non-federal cost share: $112,767
Total multi-year project cost (est.): $2,691,395

Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center, the NIST MEP affiliate in Texas, will use innovative and collaborative approaches to develop and demonstrate: 1) Data Standards for a needs analysis and assessment tool, known as Asset Inventory Management focused on MEP's five Strategic Growth Areas; 2) benefits of Technology Acceleration training, including Technology Scouting and Technology Driven Market Intelligence; and, 3) a methodology that places MEP in a position to connect technology sources including private, federal and university based with U.S. manufacturers.

For more information contact:
Drew Casani
(817) 272-5985
[drew.casani@tmac.org|mailto:drew.casani@tmac.org?subject=From Tech Acceleration Wiki]

Technology Acceleration Framework

The Technology Acceleration Framework is an automated tool with an ultimate aim of providing consultation to the users for resolving their business related needs. Typical users for the system will be people starting new business or having growth related needs along with people who help smaller businesses to grow e.g., TMAC Engineers.

The following section describes the details of Phase 1 of the project:

Phase 1:

In the Phase 1 of the project we intend to come up with a tool for recording such needs in form of need description and the need details. The tool will also capture the company specifics that houses the need. There are two aims of this phase.

Aim 1 will be to come up with analytic / reporting mechanism on the need-trend. We also intend to create a bridge between this system and existing resource-discovery tools like collaborative partnership to provide solution(s) in space of academia research. This is a restrictive solution space of what we ultimately desire to achieve but would provide a good starting point to explore the mapping between the needs and the respective solution.This will lead to a better understanding of an appropriate ranking function.

Aim 2 of this phase is to come up with standardization of different attributes that would characterize the company and their needs. The standardization will enable different data sources to connect to each other more easily forming an information grid and creating a better and bigger solution space.

The tool which we are creating for collecting the need information asks the users to enter the company name as well as the need(s) information. We have a consolidated list of attributes both for company as well as the need that we capture as a part of data entry. Some of the attributes are pre-populated and the user has to select one / multiple options. Some of the attributes are free-flowing text fields where user has to manually enter the information. The attributes that we are capturing will create the feature space and help us create better (relevant) mapping between the need and the solution.

The description and insight behind various attributes is listed as follows:

Attributes @ Company

Following attributes describe the "Company"

Attributes describing primary information about the Company
  1. Company Name
    1. Type: String
    2. Compulsory: Yes
    3. Description: The field holds the name of the company in consideration.
  2. Company Website
    1. Type: String
    2. Compulsory: No
    3. Description: The field holds the URL for the company website.
  3. Parent Company
    1. Type: String
    2. Compulsory: No
    3. Description: The field holds the name of the parent company (if any)
Attributes describing location information with respect to the Company
  1. Street Address
    1. Type: String
    2. Compulsory: No
    3. Description: The field holds the street address for the company location in consideration.
  2. City, State
    1. Type: String => [String, String (Comma separated)]
    2. Compulsory: No
    3. Description: The field holds the City and State information for the company location in consideration in a comma separated manner.
  3. Zipcode
    1. Type: String
    2. Compulsory: No
    3. Description: The field holds the zipcode for the company location in consideration. If a user only enters the zipcode, the system currently computes the corresponding city, state information by using  a reverse-Geo code mapping (zipcode to city, state).
  4. Country
    1. Type: Enum
    2. Values: [United States]
    3. Compulsory: No
    4. Description: The field holds the country information for the company location in consideration. Currently we only have "United States" as the value.
Attributes describing characteristics of the Company
  1. Status
    1. Type: Enum (Unique Selection)
    2. Values: [Private, Public]
    3. Compulsory: No
    4. Description: The field holds the value for the IPO status of a company. As of now we have two possible values a user can select with respect to the company (Private / Public)
  2. Number of Employees
    1. Type: Enum (Unique Selection)
    2. Values: [1-10, 11-50, 51-200, 201-500, 501-1000, 1001-5000, 5001-10000, 10001+] 
    3. Compulsory: No
    4. Description: The field holds the value for the number of employees in the company. The list of values was taken from "Linkedin".
  3. Company Capabilities
    1. Type: String (Multiple Selection)
    2. Compulsory: No
    3. Description: The user could add capabilities (specialties) of a company and arrange according to decreasing priority by dragging and dropping the added capabilities. We aim to use the entered capabilities as features describing a company and possibly giving companies as solutions to needs (from other companies).
  4. Average Annual Sales
    1. Type: Enum (Unique Selection)
    2. Values: [Less than $500,000, $500-$1M, $1M-2.5M, $2.5M-$5M, $5M-$10M, $10M-$20M, $20M-$50M, $50M-$100M, $100M-$500M, $500M-$1B, > $1B] 
    3. Compulsory: No
    4. Description: The field describes the values for average annual sales for companies in terms of USD
Attribute describing the company classification

For describing the company classification, we have used the NAICS codes. The classification is described in terms of the category and sub-category. The category is the high level of the two-level classification tree. In NAICS, its described with a name and a 2 digit code. All the unique descendants of a category are called the sub-categories. The original NAICS codes contains varied levels of depth beneath different categories. We have flattened this hierarchy out to create only 2-level tree. For flattening the hierarchy (below every category) we consider only the unique names appearing under a category irrespective of the levels they appear on. Say if a same name appears at different levels in the hierarchy, we hold the deepest descendant as the sub-category. This helps us achieve highest level of precision.

Note: In NAICS codes the digits in the code describing any sub-category depend on the level where the sub-category appears. Since we take the deepest occurring of any sub-category (in case of multiple occurrences) we save the highest precision value for the digits. According to observation, a sub-category can appear as a descendant of a higher level sub-category of the same name except the highest level sub-category.

We have extracted this information from the files containing NAICS codes information and saved it to the database as company classification listing.

  1. Company Classification
    1. Type: Enum (Multiple Selection)
    2. Value: [NAICS-Category(ies) - NAICS Sub-Category(ies)]
    3. Compulsory: No (but highly recommended)
    4. Description: A user can select a category and sub-category (with respect to the category selected). If the user selects multiple values then he can prioritize them in descending order with dragging and dropping the item in the list of selected values.
Attributes @ Need
Attributes describing the primary information of Need
  1. Need Title
    1. Type: String
    2. Compulsory: Yes
    3. Description: It is a caption / tag line / a one line description of the need.
  2. Need Description
    1. Type: Text
    2. Compulsory: No
    3. Description: A more elaborate description of the need.
Attributes describing the primary contact information of Need
  1. Title
    1. Type: Enum (Unique Selection)
    2. Value: [Mr, Ms]
    3. Compulsory: No
    4. Description: Title of the primary contact for the need.
  2. First Name
    1. Type: String
    2. Compulsory: No
    3. Description: First name of the primary contact for the need.
  3. Last Name
    1. Type: String
    2. Compulsory: No
    3. Description: Last name of the primary contact for the need.
  4. Designation
    1. Type: String
    2. Compulsory: No
    3. Description: Description of the position / post / level of seniority in the company (specifically with respect to the need).
  5. Email
    1. Type: String
    2. Compulsory: No
    3. Description: Email address of the primary contact for the need.
  6. Preferred Telephone
    1. Type: String
    2. Compulsory: No
    3. Description: Preferred contact number of the primary contact for the need.
  7. Street Address
    1. Type: String
    2. Compulsory: No
    3. Description: Street address (office address) of the primary contact for the need.
  8. City, State
    1. Type: String => [String, String (Comma separated)]
    2. Compulsory: No
    3. Description: The field holds the City and State information of the primary contact for the need.
  9. Zipcode
    1. Type: String
    2. Compulsory: No
    3. Description: The zipcode of the primary contact for the need.
  10. Country
    1. Type: Enum
    2. Values: [United States]
    3. Compulsory: No
    4. Description: The field holds the country information of the primary contact for the need Currently we only have "United States" as the value.
Attributes describing the characteristics of Need
  1. Related Growth Areas
    1. Type: Enum (Multiple  Selection)
    2. Value: [Technology Acceleration, Continuous Improvement, Sustainability, Workforce, Supplier Development]
    3. Compulsory: No
    4. Description: The field indicates the 5 growth areas indicated by NIST. The values selected will help the system to learn the motivation behind the need and align the need better with the selected growth areas.
  2. Capital Needs
    1. Type: Text
    2. Compulsory: No
    3. Description: The field describes any capital requirement for satisfying the need. The field was highlighted in a meeting with engineers of TMAC where it was indicated that this will be one of the important aspects (feature) of the need to capture. The solution search system can use this feature as a constraint to rank the results appropriately.
  3. Capital Amount
    1. Type: Enum [Unique Selection]
    2. Value: [10-50k, 50-100k, 100-500k, 500k-1M, 1M+]
    3. Compulsory: No
    4. Description: The field will give an estimated price of the solution. The field was highlighted and quantified in a meeting with TMAC engineers.
  4. Funding Source of Interest
    1. Type: Enum [Multiple Selection]
    2. Value: [Internal Funding, State Funding, Federal Funding, Angel Investors, Venture Capitalist, Bank Loan or Financing, Grants]
    3. Compulsory: No
    4. Description: The field will help the system understand the scope to search possible funding opportunities. This information can be aligned with any network of funding sources and a partnership could be created to provide the results of possible funding sources that the companies would like to explore.
  5. Development Status
    1. Type: Enum [Unique Selection]
    2. Value: [Pre-Concept, Solution Analysis, Technology Development, Engineering and Manufacturing development, Production and Development, Operations and Support]
    3. Compulsory: No
    4. Description: The field indicates the phase of the product / process development where the need is required. The field values were extracted from the following presentation shared by Jeremy: http://www.dtic.mil/ndia/2008science/Day3/03Morgan.pdf
  6. Related Products
    1. Type: String (Multiple Selection)
    2. Compulsory: No
    3. Description: A company can list down its own products related to one which has the need. This can help us create a information network of companies and present their product(s) as solutions to some need(s) that matches their product characteristics. This is used as a implicit feedback from the system.
  7. Competing Products
    1. Type: String (Multiple Selection)
    2. Compulsory: No
    3. Description: A company can list down its the competing products to one which has the need. This can help the system fetch relevant solutions with help of some more information extracted from the competing products.
  8. Time already spent (before solution search began)
    1. Type: Enum [Unique Selection]
    2. Value: [< 1 Month, 1-3 Months, 3-6 Months, 6-12 Months, 1-3 Years, > 3 Years]
    3. Compulsory: No
    4. Description: The field describes the time that the company has already spent looking for solution.
  9. Time required for find solution
    1. Type: Enum [Unique Selection]
    2. Value: [< 1 Month, 1-3 Months, 3-6 Months, 6-12 Months, 1-3 Years, > 3 Years]
    3. Compulsory: No
    4. Description: The field describes the time that the company would like to find the solution in.
  10. Time to implement solution
    1. Type: Enum [Unique Selection]
    2. Value: [< 1 Month, 1-3 Months, 3-6 Months, 6-12 Months, 1-3 Years, > 3 Years]
    3. Compulsory: No
    4. Description: The field describes the time that the company would like to get the solution implemented.
Attributes describing the required solution specification (classification)
  1. Solution Classification: The classification of expected (desired) solution
Attributes describing the characteristics of solution desired
  1. Application(s)
    1. Type: Text
    2. Compulsory: No
    3. Description: The field describes the application of the product / process the need forms a part of.
  2. Benefit(s)
    1. Type: Text
    2. Compulsory: No
    3. Description: The field describes the benefits of the product / process the need forms a part of.
  3. Expected Company Involvement in Solution Development
    1. Type: Enum [Multiple Selection]
    2. Value: [None, Provide Infrastructure, Co-Development]
    3. Compulsory: No
    4. Description: The field describes how much the company wants to be involved when the solution is implemented. As in if they want to outsource it and want the final solution returned or they want to take part in the solution development or just provide infrastructure and let the solution provider do the work by itself.
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