Army opens prize competition to large and small businesses

By Anna Volkwine, Office of Army Prize Competitions and Army Applied SBIR ProgramApril 26, 2023

Caption: The U.S. Army xTech Program launched its latest competition, xTechPrime — an opportunity for eligible small businesses and technology integrators to form teams and deliver innovative technology solutions in support of the Army’s most critical mission challenges. (U.S. Army)
Caption: The U.S. Army xTech Program launched its latest competition, xTechPrime — an opportunity for eligible small businesses and technology integrators to form teams and deliver innovative technology solutions in support of the Army’s most critical mission challenges. (U.S. Army) (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

WASHINGTON – On April 25, the U.S. Army xTech Program launched its latest competition, xTechPrime. Since xTech’s inception in 2018, this is the first competition focused on partnerships between technology integrators and small businesses in support of Army modernization goals.

In October 2022, Hon. Gabe Camarillo, Under Secretary of the Army, announced new strategic initiatives to expand partnerships between technology integrators, small businesses and the Army — ultimately helping small-business innovators bridge the valley of death between development, production and scale. The Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology is leading the five different strategic initiatives — xTechPrime, Army SBIR CATALYST Program, Army Tech Marketplace, Project VISTA and Army IP Cadre.

In accordance with Hon. Camarillo’s initiatives, the goal of xTechPrime is to boost small-business innovation and integration across the Army’s technology ecosystem. The competition aims to increase the likelihood of contract awards, with technology integrators lending experience in early-stage business development, prototyping, marketing and acquisitions to small businesses that have limited experience in working with the Army.

Technology integrators — defined as businesses that have directly worked with the U.S. government, have managed at least one subcontractor, and are responsible for ensuring that the work is completed as defined in the contract — can include other small businesses, large businesses and sole proprietors.

Through xTechPrime, both small businesses and integrators have critical roles and expertise to bring to their partnerships. Small businesses will showcase their innovative technology solutions, with potential to receive significant funding. Technology integrators will provide their expertise, while also providing resources to scale the solutions and form continued partnerships with small businesses as their technologies are integrated into the Army ecosystem.

“The xTechPrime competition is focused on empowering small businesses and technology integrators to partner as teams and ultimately accelerate transition of novel ideas through leveraging the resources of the technology integrators,” said Dr. Matt Willis, director of Army Prize Competitions and the Army Applied SBIR Program. “It is imperative that we leverage technology integrators’ areas of expertise to help small businesses address innovation challenges and include more emerging technologies in Army platforms.”

In the first phase of the competition, small businesses will submit a concept white paper highlighting Army impact, and technology and concept viability. The competition is open topic within the following focus areas — Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning, Autonomy, Climate and Clean Technologies, Immersive/Wearables and Sensors. While the competition is an open topic competition aligning with the critical technologies above, there are several specific topics that are of interest for this competition as well, which include: (1) Intel Apps #3 Weather Operational Effects; (2) Intel Apps #4 Information Collection Management; (3) Long Range Precision Munitions (LRPM); (4) Small Multipurpose Equipment Transport, Increment II (SMET Inc. II); and (5) Project Linchpin.

xTech will select up to 50 finalists from the first phase to participate in an xTech Collider with interested technology integrators. The Collider will provide an open forum for the small businesses and technology integrators to form partnerships for the remainder of the competition. The U.S. government will not be involved in the formation of these partnerships, which small businesses and technology integrators will form at their discretion.

The Collider will occur prior to virtual technology pitches, which are currently scheduled for October 2023. xTech will invite the newly formed teams to pitch their technology concepts and teams’ abilities to a panel of Army experts. xTech will select up to 30 teams, which will each receive $15,000, along with an invitation to participate in the finals event. In the final phase of the competition, xTech will select up to 15 teams as winners.  Each team will receive an additional cash prize of $20,000, and the small businesses from each team will receive the opportunity to submit for an Army Small Business Innovation Research Direct to Phase II contract award of up to $1.9 million each.

“This competition is a critical component of Hon. Camarillo’s strategic initiatives,” Willis said. “It combines xTech’s proven prize competition model with real integration potential that will boost the likelihood and scale at which Soldier-driven technologies are deployed.”

To enter the xTechPrime competition, eligible small businesses can submit their three-page concept white papers no later than 5 p.m. ET on June 7. For all competition-related information, please visit https://xtech.army.mil/competition/.

Established in 2018, the Army xTech Program strives to integrate small businesses and non-traditional vendors into the Army’s science and technology ecosystem by providing opportunities for direct exposure to laboratories, program executive offices and program managers from across the Army.

Participants receive detailed feedback from Army and DoD stakeholders and have access to training, mentorship, and other support infrastructure as they progress through the competition to determine how best to align their technology solutions with real users and buyers within the Army.

The xTech Program holds several competitions per year, from open-topic competitions such as xTechSearch, to technology-specific competitions targeting specific Army needs and challenges. For all competition information, go to https://www.xtech.army.mil/.  

The Army Applied SBIR Program offers Phase I contracts to small businesses and nontraditional vendors with technologies that show technical merit, feasibility and commercial potential. It also provides funding to businesses capable of helping the Army achieve its goals and earn further federal support in Phase II. The Direct to Phase II award is for already-mature solutions ready for demonstration.

Through the Army Applied SBIR Program, companies engage with technical, acquisition, and operational subject matter experts. These specialists offer insight into the Army’s technological opportunities while guiding them through the Army research and development ecosystem.

The Army Applied SBIR Program releases contract opportunities on a rolling, ad-hoc basis to respond to the Army’s current and expected warfighting technology needs. For eligibility information and a list of open solicitations, please visit the Army SBIR|STTR website.

The Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology provides the American Soldier with a decisive advantage in any mission by developing, acquiring, fielding and sustaining the world's finest equipment and services, and by leveraging technologies and capabilities to meet current and future Army needs.