It’s hard to imagine life without innovation. There’s an app for almost everything, a future with self-driving cars seems promising and researchers at the National Institutes of Health continue discover new treatments for various medical conditions.
What many outside the Beltway may not realize is the government’s part in discovering similar innovations and the transfer of technology. This doesn’t happen automatically though; someone has to help connect the dots to build that public-private partnership with scientists, academics and entrepreneurs whose innovations could serve national imperatives.
For nearly 8 years, Pete Tseronis facilitated such connections as chief technology officer for the Energy Department. During his time with Energy, Tseronis championed collaboration among the public sector and research/development stakeholders within the investor and entrepreneurial communities to facilitate mission alignment with technology investments.
As a result, Tseronis developed the department’s enterprise strategic IT roadmap and embraced the opportunity to bridge next-generation solution architectures within the national laboratory ecosystem with stakeholder communities inside the Beltway.
“I recognized each and every day that I was afforded the opportunity to drive innovation within the DOE and across the government,” Tseronis said. “One of my priorities [as CTO] was to cultivate relationships within a highly scientific community and convey value propositions by connecting lines-of-sight between mission and technology.”
Energy is a vast ecosystem of disparate operations. It has mission areas among 10 program offices, two independent Energy administrations, 15 staff offices, 17 national laboratories, four power marketing administrations and eight field sites, where research and development is happening in domains such as renewable fuels, stockpile stewardship, autonomous vehicles, and environmental management.
As Energy’s first-ever appointed CTO, Tseronis was chartered to define the role, develop a framework for the office and serve as the catalyst of innovation for the R&D community across the federal sector.
“Four years later, we had established a fully funded organization focused on market research/trends, open innovation, technology transfer/commercialization, and the establishment of proofs-of-concept/pilot programs,” Tseronis said.
To achieve this goal, Tseronis needed to connect many dots between people, process and technology, leaning heavily on the national laboratories, where untapped innovation was occurring.
Although Tseronis’ official title was CTO, he often referred to himself as a “connective tissue officer,” as he spent time triaging the relationships among key stakeholders, the program mission and technology platforms.
In 2015, Tseronis decided to retire from the federal government after 25 years of service, to pursue a second career in the private sector. Retirement hasn’t closed the book on Tseronis’ passion for collaboration and innovation. In fact, these days he applies the same “dot-connecting, bridge-building” approach to his company, Dots and Bridges.
“I had a desire to ignite my passion for public-private partnerships within industry,” Tseronis explained, “and continue to advance the innovation ecosystem in our country.”
As founder and CEO of Dots and Bridges, Tseronis provides strategic advisory services to business entities, focused primarily on the relationship between cybersecurity, analytics and critical infrastructure protection.
“When I left federal service, early on, I found myself wondering how best to replicate my CTO role [discover, align and showcase innovation] in a manner that maintained the emphasis on new business models that create economic and societal value,” he said.
Tseronis has chosen to focus on the multifaceted verticals of cybersecurity analytics combined with the unearthing of transformative technologies and innovation.
With just over one year under his belt as newly minted entrepreneur, Tseronis recognizes that celebrating success is necessary to appreciate the past but also to fuel the future.
“While I miss the daily camaraderie of colleagues and brainstorming with my teammates, I recognize that this new chapter requires a re-establishment of cadence, relationships and vision.” Tseronis said. “I enjoy my new virtual offices (Starbucks and Panera) and being able to have breakfast with my wife and kids more often.”
“On the flip side, probably the biggest change for me is not being able to truly turn off the workday clock,” he continued. “My mind is always thinking about the next day’s activities and opportunities. I spend more time researching material in the evenings and on weekends, connecting with like-minded individuals via social media and building upon the previous day’s efforts. All in all, 95 percent of the grind is trumped by the 5 percent of passion.”
Tseronis understands the need to differentiate the Dots and Bridges brand and to accomplish this, he’s doing what he does best: connecting dots and building bridges.
“During my time as the DOE CTO, I created a technology symposia series that ultimately served as a venue for educational information exchanges,” he explained. “A few weeks ago, I held my inaugural Constellation Event. These events are a real-time gathering of the most compelling stakeholders within the critical infrastructure protection space coming together to address how cyber and analytics are key ingredients for secure transformative innovation.”
“Constellation events can serve as a mecca for strategic discussion and discovery while exposing innovative businesses that are moving transformation forward,” he continued.
So what’s next for Tseronis, other than cheering on his beloved Miami Dolphins and Villanova Wildcats and checking in next summer to see if his 37-year-old, 50-meter breaststroke team record is still intact?
“I want to grow my business into one that is unique and credible,” he said. “I want to build off my year 1 lessons-learned. I plan to continue advising business entities on how best to enable today’s emerging technologies become the fuel for tomorrow’s growth sectors.”
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