From NASA SBIR/STTR Award to Acquisition: Talking with Redwire Space
Space infrastructure company Redwire Space has grown its capabilities through the acquisition of several small businesses, many of which are NASA SBIR/STTR awardees
Adcole Maryland Aerospace. Deployable Space Systems. Made In Space. LoadPath. Roccor. Techshot. From 3D-printing, to deployable space structures, to optical sensors and more, these six companies have advanced a range of technologies with help from the NASA SBIR/STTR program. Today, the innovators behind these technologies are still hard at work on their ideas, with one key difference from when they started: they have been integrated together to form one Redwire.
What is the common thread that unites these acquisitions? How have these small businesses benefitted? We spoke to the team at Redwire to find out more.
Tech, Teamwork, and Traction in the Marketplace
For Redwire, acquisition has been a key strategy for growth and expansion. When looking at potential businesses to acquire, the company prioritizes quality technology, a quality team, and differentiated products and services that have gained and are gaining traction in the marketplace.
“NASA’s SBIR/STTR program is a powerful catalyst for driving technological advancements and fostering innovation across a wide range of essential space capabilities,” said Al Tadros, Chief Technology Officer at Redwire. “The SBIR/STTR program has a long history of success, with many small businesses that have gone on to become major players in their respective fields. Although a SBIR/STTR award does not guarantee follow-on customers, Redwire believes that a program award serves an early indicator of a company that is advancing the state of the art, is immersed in the technology trade space, and understands the capabilities of its technology—both today, and where it can go in the future.”
This forward-facing mentality is key, particularly when viewed against the backdrop of the burgeoning space sector and the reality that many customers are only beginning to see the commercial potential of space. To achieve the grand visions that many small businesses are driving toward, it’s imperative to gain customer support here and now. Bridging that gap means finding common ground based in providing value.
“Not all exciting innovations produce a compelling value proposition for customers. It is important for SBIR/STTR awardees to consider the market. A solid pipeline of potential work, including early adopters, is essential to the success of any new technology,” said Tadros.
This is exactly why the team is just as important to Redwire as the technology: Teams that listen and understand the core need and are flexible and responsive to dialogue are well positioned to deliver value to customers. They also make for enjoyable teammates—a crucial factor for an acquiring company looking to grow its ranks.
Expanding Reach and Resources
So what happens when you bring a bunch of forward-thinking innovators together under one roof? They start asking new questions—and coming up with new solutions. For the small businesses that have joined Redwire, acquisition has provided access not only to more resources, but to new collaborators to bounce ideas off of.
“The small businesses we acquire bring valuable expertise and innovative solutions to our larger organization while in turn enabling us to support their growth and success, laying a foundation for a bright future for our combined organization,” said Tadros.
The ensuing conversations on technology, product delivery and development, and overall strategy have opened new paths for these talented inventors to pursue.
Customers, too, have gotten in on the spirit of collaboration. Watching the small businesses they’ve been working with join a larger team, these companies have asked their own questions about what new solutions they might be able to take advantage of. All of this has expanded the scope of what’s possible and helped the small businesses that have joined Redwire provide even more value to their customers. As any entrepreneur knows, there are few things more gratifying.
“Cutting-edge technology is important, but at the end of the day, bridging the gap between the laboratory and the marketplace to deliver value for a customer’s mission is king,” said Tadros.