GTEC offers ‘front door’ to government sales for Ottawa businesses

From the windows of his Kanata office, Jack Gulas has a fine view of the Peace Tower. For the co-founder and partner of Eclipsys Solutions, it’s a reminder that sometimes the best business partners are those closest to home.

Another reminder – and for his companies, an important opportunity – is the upcoming Government Technology Exhibition and Conference (GTEC), an annual chance for the federal government to shop around the showroom floor to find businesses that can help deliver on promised services.

Mr. Gulas is a member of the board of governors for GTEC, and Eclipsys, an IT service provider focused on the Oracle suite of products, has set up at the exhibition for the past seven years. The exhibition has been a regular priority for the company because of the returns it sees on making public sector connections.

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“It creates one front door, as opposed to going through 50 doors,” Mr. Gulas says, adding the complex nature of the federal government sometimes makes it difficult to find, secure and deliver on contracts. 

GTEC, he explains, is the one time the federal government will come to you with exactly what it’s looking for.

Mr. Gulas says the timing of the fall exhibition and conference lines up well with government spending patterns. After the slow days of summer, business picks back up, with departments looking to deliver by budget time in early spring.

“We gain a lot of insight at GTEC … in the busiest sales period of the year for the federal government,” he says.

The conference is also a chance to take the pulse of the feds. Changes in government or shifts in geopolitical focus can affect what kinds of services departments are seeking.

One year on from the election of the Trudeau government, Mr. Gulas has noticed a shift in tone.

“I think in the last government, it was a little more, save money, look inwards, and a little more restraint,” he says. “This government has given us the impression that it’s a little more in growth mode.”

The difference, he explains, could be that government looks for more mobile and cloud-focused services as opposed to offerings aimed more at optimization and consolidation that were common in the previous regime.

Eclipsys is not the only reason Mr. Gulas has a keen eye on GTEC. In May, he launched a startup called YoppWorks that he incubates out of Eclipsys. YoppWorks, which operates as a strategic partner for IT service firms, will also be showing at the exhibition.

The aim for fledgling companies like YoppWorks is to catch the attention of a government department with a smaller project in its pocket that could be a valuable kickstart for a new firm.

“Those are the seeds that we need as a startup to really get some exposure,” Mr. Gulas says.

For all the buzz that GTEC generates in Mr. Gulas, he is surprised that local companies don’t take better advantage of the enormous business partner in their own backyards.

“For some reason, Kanata-based companies spend more time thinking about how to get into China than the federal government. They’re like 20 kilometres down the road, and they have a $3-billion IT budget,” he says.

Mr. Gulas says that companies often know how to get funding from the government through the Industrial Research Assistance Program and other grants, but they rarely see the value in selling back to the feds. To that end, he recently started working with the Kanata North BIA to spur businesses to go after government contracts.

“I’m on a little bit of a mission to see if I can help there,” he says.

GTEC runs from Nov. 1-3 at the Shaw Centre.

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