Army awards $7M in small business funding to develop weapon systems, electronics

By Stephanie PriceApril 6, 2022

The U.S. Army awarded contracts to six small businesses for their innovation solutions in weapons systems and electronics. (U.S. Army)
The U.S. Army awarded contracts to six small businesses for their innovation solutions in weapons systems and electronics. (U.S. Army) (Photo Credit: Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Scott) VIEW ORIGINAL

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Army has awarded nearly $7 million in new funding contracts with six small businesses to transition their innovation solutions in weapons systems and electronics from concept to prototype.

Each company will receive nearly $1.1 million in funding over an 18-month period through the Army Applied Small Business Innovation Research program, which releases contract opportunities on an ad hoc, rolling basis for U.S.-based small businesses and non-traditional defense partners to take on some of the Army’s most critical challenges.

“We identify and leverage the best mechanisms the government has available to make it easy for small businesses to work with us,” said Dr. Matt Willis, director of Army prize competitions and the Army Applied SBIR program in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology. “Our ultimate goal is to develop, transition and deploy best-of-breed technology to our Soldiers, so we’re looking forward to seeing how these companies continue to develop their technologies into solutions for our Soldiers.”

The following small businesses received Phase II awards:

·        Carnegie Robotics LLC (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) for Innovative Improvements to Standoff Mine/IED Detection Algorithms and Interactions

·        Intellisense Systems, Inc. (Torrance, California) for Software-Defined Tactical Network and Wide Area Multigigabit Extensible Radiofrequency Sensor Network

·        Opto-Knowledge Systems, Inc. (OKSI) (Torrance, California) for Scene-Based VAM-NUC

·        Scientific Systems Company, Inc. (Woburn, Massachusetts) for Evidential Grid-based Explosive Hazard Detection

·        StarNav, LLC (Riverside, California) for Self-Contained Signal of Opportunity-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing

Through the Army Applied SBIR program, selected small businesses work closely with technical points of contact, who serve as a resource for companies as they mature their technologies for insertion into Army programs of record.

"One of these technologies is researching a new method to provide internal thermal camera calibration in a way that will not interrupt the Soldier’s view of the scene imagery,” said John Michael Hall, electronics engineer with Army Program Executive Office Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors, and technical point of contact for one of the SBIR topics. “This technique will not only meet this critical mission need, but it also has the potential to reduce the unit production cost of fielded thermal sensor systems by several thousand dollars each.”

In addition to benefiting the Army, the Army Applied SBIR program also offers a valuable opportunity for small businesses to interact with Soldiers and technical and operational subject-matter experts, who provide insight into technology needs and guide small businesses through the Army research and development ecosystem.

The program’s flexibility and timeliness in responding to the Army’s emerging technology needs maximize the initial cash flow for small businesses while minimizing the time to contract.

“Partnership with innovative small businesses through the SBIR program is an extremely efficient way to access top-notch talent who can execute rapid development of technologies,” Hall said. “An added benefit of the SBIR path is that the technology data rights can be licensed to multiple tier-1 suppliers, thereby fostering healthy competition and widespread proliferation.”

The Army Applied SBIR program recently announced three new contract opportunities in materials readiness. The pre-release period for the new topics is March 10-24, 2022. During this time, companies can submit questions to the Defense SBIR/STTR Innovation Portal and via email. Qualified small businesses can submit proposals beginning March 25 and ending April 26 at noon EDT. Full proposal packages must be submitted through the DSIP Portal. Additional information, including eligibility information and how to apply, can be found on the Army SBIR|STTR website.