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Beacon Interactive Systems Wins Prestigious Tibbetts Award

May 16, 2023

WASHINGTON -- Beacon Interactive Systems, a cutting-edge software technology company from Cambridge, MA, today was awarded a prestigious Tibbetts Award for performing critical research and development for the Armed Services and applying innovative solutions to help public and private entities function more effectively.

Company founders, ML Mackey and Mike MacEwen, received the award from the Small Business Administration (SBA) at a White House ceremony. The award honors outstanding small businesses and individuals participating in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, a highly competitive program that encourages domestic small businesses to engage in federal research and development with the potential for private sector use.

"We are honored to receive this award," said Mackey, the company's CEO. "This has been a long journey from working out of a rent controlled apartment 19 years ago to being recognized as a technology leader who is helping our nation maintain a strong defense.  We look forward to continuing to grow and applying our solutions to improve efficiency and strategic visibility for our government and private sector clients."

MacEwen, the company's President, noted that Beacon's work with the Navy has saved a significant amount of money while improving shipboard safety.  Citing one example, he said that eTagOut, a solution created by Beacon, blends human performance with system automation to reduce errors and instantly communicate maintenance status and condition. The Navy estimates that the technology will save $25 million over the next two years, and the product was the subject of Beacon's nomination for the Tibbetts Award.

"We have worked with customers in a wide variety of industries," MacEwen said. "Our clients have ranged from MetLife and Olympus to Hunt Manufacturing as well as spanning both consumer and investment focused Internet startups. Regardless of industry, customer, or function, Beacon has always provided high-quality solutions."

Moreover, the company has been applauded by members of Congress for overcoming the obstacles that small businesses frequently face when competing with larger firms for government and private sector work.  Beacon is also a woman-owned company.

"Through professionalism, client-focused approach and state-of-the-art products, Beacon Interactive typifies the renaissance of technological innovation occurring in Massachusetts," said Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA). "ML Mackey and Beacon Interactive exemplify the important role that small businesses can play in both the private and public sectors when given the opportunity to compete with larger firms. Their work is helping America's service members, providing resources that enhance our military's effectiveness and efficiency. Beacon's success underscores the importance of the Small Business Innovation Research program, which has been instrumental in the growth of so many small businesses. Congratulations to Beacon Interactive on this well-deserved award."

The company has received strong support from its clients.

"The Beacon Interactive Systems Team distinguished themselves with exceptional superior service as the developers of the TurboWork and Electronic Tag-Out applications," said J.L. Zumbro, MFOM Program Manager. "Beacon Interactive's outstanding professional skill, leadership, and ceaseless efforts resulted in major contributions to the effectiveness and success of the MFOM Program and the Fleet user. Applying extensive knowledge and substantial Human System Integration (HSI) experience, they aggressively pursued and resolved countless challenges leading to the successful development of an innovative HSI solution."

Beacon's origins were in the non-federal, non-defense related private sector. For instance, in 2000, the company was awarded a contract to provide Integrated Account Management to 500 field sales representatives of the North American division of Olympus. But when the economic downturn hit the software industry, many large players experienced financial difficulties.  At this point, Beacon engaged with the Navy SBIR Program.  By leveraging private sector experience and core expertise in operational cost-savings innovation, the company won its first SBIR contract in 2002.  The objective was to help keep Navy ships mission ready while they were deployed around the globe.

Since engaging with the SBIR Program, Beacon has won several Navy SBIR Phase I, II and III contracts. As part of upgrading its maintenance systems, the Navy was looking for ways to replace an aging application while creating a more efficient workforce.  Beacon met and exceeded the objectives at a fraction of the price expected, in a compressed timeframe and in such a way that included a diverse group of stakeholders as part of the process.

"Our innovation is reflected in all of the technology that we deliver," MacEwen said. "We share our approaches, philosophies and knowledge with both the Navy and other development partners both large and small. This has made Beacon a valuable member of teams whether designing a new destroyer or supporting software code in the field."

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