Vertx Partners helps non-traditional companies work with federal government
Vertx is funded by a contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory, so the services it offers are free to the client. Those it serves range in size from a single employee to several hundred, and Vertx is not limited to working with companies only interested in working with the DoD.
Founded in late 2021 with West Virginia being the launch state, Vertx Partners has expanded into Tennessee in what Chris Ford says is an effort to help non-traditional companies work with the federal government.
He’s a White Pine native and current Lenoir City resident who had been consulting with enterprises interested in doing business with the Department of Defense (DoD) before joining Vertex in January 2023 when the company added the Volunteer State as its second location. Next up is Kentucky followed by Pennsylvania and New York as the Morgantown, WV-based organization gradually expands to help businesses in Appalachia work together to solve problems for the federal government.
“We’re further down the pipeline than PTAC,” Ford says as he references the Procurement Technical Assistance Center, which recently changed its name to the Tennessee APEX Accelerator. It has been operated for decades by the University of Tennessee’s Center for Industrial Services.
Vertx is funded by a contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory, so the services it offers are free to the client. Those it serves range in size from a single employee to several hundred, and Vertx is not limited to working with companies only interested in working with DoD.
“The main backbone of what we do is helping secure SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) awards,” Ford says, adding, “There are many Phase I and II awards but not many Phase IIIs.”
Vertx works to identify companies that want to enter the federal contracting world or expand beyond what they are currently doing. “We help shape their lens of what is possible, pulldown opportunities, and coach them into submitting successful Phase III proposals.”
The organization’s four-step process is outlined on its webpage.
- Step #1 is described as discovery. “We’re constantly identifying potential new participants in the defense industry,” Vertx explains. “From new technologies to non-traditional defense contractors and small businesses, we’re growing our network of problem solvers.”
- Step #2 is titled funding opportunities. “Once our team learns more about a business, we look for current opportunities and open contracts that may be a good fit in the defense industry,” Vertx writes. “As new opportunities are released, we help to pair them with solution seekers and innovators.”
- Step #3 is described as matching partners. Here, Vertx helps innovators find each other, uncover government contracts, and collaborate with research institutions. These partnerships often include improving or completing supply chains, assisting with talent recruitment, and brokering new contracts between industries.
- Step #4 is titled support. “That involves helping companies that have never worked with the U.S. Air Force (USAF) “know everything they need to succeed in landing that first contract.”
Vertx stresses that it doesn’t take equity in a business and does not directly fund a company.
Ford is a 22-year veteran of the USAF, 11 years as an enlisted member, and the remaining time as an officer. He’s also an avid hiker, logging 16,000 miles since he moved to Lenoir City in 2015.
Those interested in exploring Vertx can contact Ford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-478-1643.