WASHINGTON – Five businesses accelerating innovation are at the helm of the Army SBIR CATALYST pilot – a novel program that uses matching capital from transition partners and major weapons systems integrators to drive contracts up to $75 million to tackle Army customer needs.
Announced at the October 2022 Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition by the Under Secretary of the Army, Hon. Gabe Camarillo, the Army SBIR CATALYST Program is one of five initiatives incentivizing the Army’s collaborative efforts with industry. Launched in February 2023, the Army SBIR CATALYST pilot requests select small businesses to submit proposals for participation.
While the pilot accepted several small business technology proposals capable of supporting the Army of 2030, it focused on solutions within specific technology ecosystems where small businesses lead in innovation. To ensure the U.S. can overcome any adversary, the Army SBIR CATALYST pilot prioritizes ecosystems including artificial intelligence and machine learning, climate and clean tech, autonomy, and supply-chain logistics in the Indo-Pacific region.
“This is the first time an SBIR program has launched an initiative focused on overcoming untapped potential by investing so heavily and building a shared risk structure between small businesses, Army transition partners and technology integrators,” 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. “With this pilot – and significant increase in Army funding – we can drive down risk while providing greater resources to advance prototype development, testing and transition.”
Utilizing greater capital to enhance R&D investments, the Army SBIR Program will award five small businesses base contracts up to $1 million each for a six-to-12-month period of performance. The Army SBIR CATALYST pilot requires each awardee to have previously received an Army SBIR|STTR award within the past four fiscal years, while not having yet received a second SBIR|STTR Phase II under the same project.
Army SBIR CATALYST Program pilot awardees:
ANDRO Computational LLC, “DeepSPEC: Artificial Intelligence-Powered Blind Signal Detector and Classifier”
· Technology ecosystem: AI/ML
· Potential transition partner: PEO Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors (PL Tactical Space Superiority)
Compound Eye Inc., “VIDAS-SLAM: Undetectable, GPS Denied Mapping and Positioning”
· Technology ecosystem: Autonomy
· Potential transition partner: PEO Ground Combat Systems
EM Photonics Inc., “Image Analysis Approach for Wind Management”
· Technology ecosystem: Sensors
· Potential transition partner: PEO Soldier (Individual Weapons)
R-Dex Systems, Inc., “Blue Jay: Strengthening SIGINT Classifiers and Identifying Adversarial Attacks”
· Technology ecosystem: Immersive and Wearables
· Potential transition partner: PEO IEW&S (PD Sensors-Aerial Intelligence)
Solvus Global LLC, “Cold Spray Repair & Restoration of Long-Range Precision Fires”
· Technology ecosystem: Contested Logistics and Sustainment
· Potential transition partners: DEVCOM Armaments Center, DEVCOM Army Research Laboratory, and PEO Ground Combat Systems (PM Main Battle Tank Systems)
Propelling emerging capabilities to transition and commercialization, the Army SBIR CATALYST contract award has potential for multi-phase funding opportunities. After the initial $1 million base award and six-to-12-month PoP, recipients could receive Army SBIR CATALYST Phase II Enhancement contracts of up to $7 million of Army SBIR Program funds, up to $3.5 million in funding from the Army transition partner and up to $3.5 million from the technology integrator.
The result is a total funding potential of up to $15 million for each small business, based on a fund ratio of 2:1:1 over an additional 12-to-24-month PoP beyond the base period — for a contract pool of up to $75 million total across all five companies in the Army SBIR CATALYST pilot. Through these R&D investments, the Army SBIR Program leverages capital to buy down risk for the Army’s larger, more scalable acquisition profile.
Via the pilot, the program will overcome untapped potential to transition Army technology challenges into major weapon systems programs by strongly synchronizing small business innovators with Army transition partners and integrators. As a result, it will provide resources for advanced prototype development testing and transition.
Traditionally, the Army Applied SBIR Program provides Phase I contracts to small businesses and nontraditional vendors with solutions that show technical merit, feasibility and commercial potential. The program also offers funds to companies that can earn further federal support in Phase II. The Direct to Phase II award is for already-mature technologies ready for demonstration.
Additionally, the Army Applied SBIR Program allows businesses to collaborate with technical, acquisition and operational subject matter experts. These specialists offer insight into the Army’s technological opportunities while guiding companies through the Army research and development ecosystem.
The Army Applied SBIR Program continues to release contract opportunities on a rolling basis to respond to current and future warfighting technology needs. The Army SBIR CATALYST program’s structure complements these existing efforts and drives awards up to eight times larger than typical SBIR contracts.
The office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology provides the American Soldier a decisive advantage in any mission by developing, acquiring and sustaining the world’s finest equipment and services. It also leverages technologies and capabilities to meet current and future Army needs. For more information, please visit the Army ASA(ALT) website.