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DEFENCE PROCUREMENT – NyRad

DEFENCE PROCUREMENT – NyRad

BY JAMES CARELESS

Offset CoPilot

Defence offset consultancy, NyRad Inc., uses niche expertise to develop a smart ITB Management Tool

Navigating the federal government’s Industrial and Technological Benefit (ITB) and Value Proposition (VP) requirements can be a particularly daunting prospect for defence companies. If they don’t fulfill this procurement requirement fully and accurately, it could cost these firms federal contracts worth millions or even billions of dollars.

Fortunately, firms like NyRad are here to help. Remotely located, NyRad is Canada’s leading offset consultancy, made up of a team of procurement professionals that have successfully guided many top defence companies through the harrowing ITB/VP process.

BUILDING WINNING STRATEGIES

“We’ve been a part of almost every major procurement in Canada where Value Proposition has applied,” said Stephanie Batstone, one of two managing partners in the women-owned-and-led consultancy. “Based on our decades of experience, we understand the Canadian defence procurement process in depth,” added Leigha Cotton, NyRad’s other managing partner. “We also understand ITB/VP requirements from both a bidding and contract fulfilment perspective. So, we’re able to build winning strategies at bid time that can be executed successfully.”

Any defence company who has bid on a federal Request for Proposal (RFP) knows how important ITB and VP requirements are to the bidding process. The ITB Policy is Canada’s tool for ensuring that Canadian workers, domestic suppliers, and Canada’s economy broadly, benefit from the billions being spent on defence procurements. No matter what political party is in power, they all want to show taxpayers that the money being spent on defence is money that is building a better Canada.

This is why our ITB/VP requirements are so complex, because Canada needs to be sure that companies who bid on and win federal defence contracts are actually meeting its economic development goals. This is also why so many defence companies turn to the experts at NyRad for guidance and ITB/VP management support.

“Companies generally hire us well before the RFP is released in order to develop an offset strategy that integrates into the technical solution and the financial bid components,” Batstone told CDR. “We work as an integrated part of the bidding team to help them engage the ITB/VP process successfully, and to optimize their chances of winning the contract they seek.”

HARNESSING THE POWER OF AI

When a defence contractor wins a defence contract with ITB requirements, the complexity continues and so does the role for firms like NyRad. It takes a tremendous amount of work to fulfill the contractual offset obligations. On top of the program management and the ongoing tracking of eligible ITB activities, ITB managers spend a lot of time collecting and manipulating data to fulfill Canada’s reporting requirements, as well as respond to internal requests for ongoing status and/or progress reports. This time is often spent at the expense of other more strategic activities, like identifying indirect investment opportunities or aligning obligations to long-term growth plans.

“The manual data compilation that goes into ITB management is incredible,” said Cotton. “And most ITB obligors are using nothing more sophisticated than a collection of excel spreadsheets to track and manage millions, often billions of dollars in ITB activities. With the growing level of complexity and evolution of ITB/VP requirements, there’s clearly a need for additional, technology powered support.”

This is why the company is looking to supplement its consulting services by developing an AI-based tool called Offset CoPilot to further help its clients deal with the complexities of ITB management. The platform is powered by contextere’s flagship software, Madison, an AI platform developed for the aerospace and defence industry that combines data extraction, machine learning, and natural language processing to deliver actionable information to human decision-makers.

HOW IT WORKS

Like an able assistant, Offset CoPilot does the ‘dog work’ that makes accurate, incisive human decision-making feasible. To make this possible, NyRad is training the AI behind Offset CoPilot on everything related to offsets. Complete with real-time question and answer, prompting and data visualization capabilities, Offset CoPilot will also assist users with transaction development and reporting – pulling data from internal sources in real-time.

“We’re calling this NyRad AI-enabled platform ‘Offset CoPilot’ because that is the role it will fill for our clients,” said Batstone. “While it will never replace the need for an ITB Manager, it will augment the way ITB managers work – demystifying the process, streamlining administration and simplifying compliance requirements so as to reduce both risk and cost while helping to maximize the value and impact of offset programs.”

To make the process even more painless for users, “we envision the Offset CoPilot plugging into existing enterprise data systems,” Batstone added. “This will allow our tool, for example, to automatically pull the necessary reporting information from a user’s internal system to populate a report without human intervention.”

“The real-time Q&A capability will help take some of the guess work out of ITB management, while reducing the time spent on internal reporting activities”, added Cotton. “It will also allow us to support a larger segment of the industry. Instead of focusing exclusively on the Prime Contractors and/or those with heavy ITB management needs, the tool, and more specifically, the Q&A function, will allow us to support small businesses who are looking for basic navigational support”.

LOOKING AHEAD

As for when Offset Co-Pilot will make it to market? “We’re in the testing and validation stage,” replied Cotton. “But we like what we’re seeing. Early results have been really positive. We intend to take a phased approach to product development and hope to have the first iteration of the tool available to industry in early 2024.”

James Careless is CDR’s Ottawa Bureau Chief

 

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