Marshall Space Flight Leads NASA in Small Business Mentorships

NASA’s Office of Small Business Programs host attendees at an agency Business Opportunities Expo at Port Canaveral. Photo by NASA/Kim Shiflett

The Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville is the U.S. space program’s leader in growing startups by teaming them with space industry giants.

It all begins with matching the right people.

“State-of-the-art hardware and technology are the cornerstones of NASA’s mission in space, but for the past 60 years, talented, engaged, diverse human beings have been the driving force behind everything we do,” says David Brock, small business specialist and NASA Mentor-Protégé Program manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

The Mentor-Protégé Program matches major aerospace contractors with prospective NASA subcontractors — particularly small, disadvantaged businesses and minority-serving academic institutions.

“NASA has long appreciated Marshall’s leadership in all our small business endeavors,” said Glenn Delgado, associate administrator of the NASA Office of Small Business Programs at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Given Marshall’s successful track record, I’m proud to entrust this critical element of NASA’s mission to David Brock and his team.”

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Under Brock’s leadership, the Marshall team has guided 18 past and current mentor-protégé agreements since 2008.

The program’s biggest impact, says Brock, may be among minority-serving academic institutions and small, disadvantaged businesses — or those solely owned by women or people with disabilities, or fall into a Historically Under-utilized Business Zone, or HUBZone. That latter federal program was created in 1997 to empower economically challenged communities. Minority-serving institutions include those identified as Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or U.S. schools established before 1964 with the primary purpose of educating black students.

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