What is SBIR?
In the government’s quest for better tech, a lot of programs have popped up, each with its own mission and path for non-traditional tech companies to find a way into the federal market. The SBIR program is designed to encourage small businesses to go after federal contracts — its highly competitive nature and phasing purposely created to spur innovation.
The SBIR program began decades ago, and recently has come into its own with a healthy $3.3 billion dollar budget to be given away to develop products. The process is divided into three phases, beginning with feasibility in phase I, moving to prototyping in phase II, and ending with commercializations in phase III.
For tech companies, SBIR provides essential revenue. Companies without access to traditional investment channels can leverage SBIR funds to help develop and commercialize products. More mature companies can use the SBIR program as a springboard to launch a larger federal presence.
Since a SBIR is a contract vehicle, for government leaders, the SBIR program offers quicker, easier ways to work with tech. Once a company is on a SBIR contract, doors open for other agencies and programs across the federal government to work with them.
After working with Dcode to hone federal strategy, make connections, and break into or scale in the federal market, many Dcode alumni have found even more success leveraging the SBIR program. Each company below is fully vetted for federal with products that are well-equipped to solve mission challenges.
P.S. If tech here looks interesting, reach out! Phase I companies can move to phase II with an end-user. If your agency is a good fit, we can help you learn more about working together.
HAAS Alert’s mission is to make roads safer with their technology, and received a phase I SBIR award to explore the development of their collision prevention service to connect the Air Force’s Emergency Vehicles to the HAAS Alert interoperable Safety Cloud with a goal of increasing situational awareness when responding to emergencies and digitally alerting drivers on base.
HAAS leadership states, “We’re excited to partner with USAF in discovering opportunities to equip Air Force fleets with HAAS Alert service. We care deeply about making sure our nation’s military and first responders have all the tools they need to keep personnel and the public safe. Government, state and local agencies can benefit immediately from the collision prevention, C-V2X and fleet management technologies we deliver.”
Learn more about HAAS Alert’s phase I award here.
Constellation provides security for big data and has a phase I SBIR to provide distributed security infrastructure for mission assurance in contested environments using blockchain technology.
Constellation aims to help the Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) team find operational solutions that will create a leap in their current capabilities with a focus on agile interoperability of both legacy and future domain data types.
Constellation CEO Ben Jorgensen said:
“In simple terms, it means we are working to provide support and solutions for decision making across various systems. A command center, at the USAF, has inputs that are mostly manual and not automated.”
Constellation’s data collection occurs across different data sources from aircraft, buildings, satellites, drones, and other United States Air Force assets and data is not seamlessly shared across devices and organizations. Just think of all of these devices that are collecting millions of data points every day. If we can collect all that data, and trust the data is valid, we could create some incredible insights and automated applications — artificial intelligence — just by understanding how all of these systems work in correspondence with one another.
Constellation believes that a blockchain-like solution, directed acyclic graph and protocol, is the perfect solution for an organization looking to minimize centralized network security threats and where data is critical for missions and operations.”
Learn more about Constellation Network’s work with USAF through the SBIR program here.
Gravitational is a security company, with a SBIR phase I contract, that can help government agencies easily control access across cloud environments and on-premise infrastructure.
One of Gravitational’s products is Teleport, a privileged access management (PAM) solution that increases control and monitoring for enterprise engineers and decreases the risk of hackers. Teleport allows engineers to access company servers securely across multiple public or private clouds, from any device or location, without compromising company security and compliance requirements.
Teleport is the first and only cloud-native PAM solution and uses the Zero Trust security model, which requires strict identity verification to access data or resources within a private network. Legacy solutions rely on network and perimeter security.
Teleport allows users to implement industry-best practices for SSH and Kubernetes access, meet compliance requirements, and have complete visibility into access and behavior.
Learn more about Gravitational and Teleport here.
Remediant boosts visibility and control over user accounts with operating-system level privileged access, bringing active enforcement of the Principle of Least Privilege. Remediant have a SBIR phase I for the topic Enhanced Control over Privileged Access.
COO and cofounder Paul Lanzi points to Dcode as a key partner in Remediant’s federal journey and SBIR win, saying, “Dcode has been a force multiplier to our public sector efforts. After the Dcode program, we are one step closer to hardening the privileged access defenses of key government entities and bringing them closer to Zero Standing Privilege”
In addition to Remediant’s SBIR, the company has been named a “Black Unicorn” for delivering public sector and enterprise customers precise and continuously-inventoried privileged access.
Learn more about Remediant here.
Unearth, map-based project management platform, has a SBIR phase I to alleviate the facilities management duties air force recruiters often face due to their posting in civilian locations. Unearth’s product will help connect all facility data in a single cloud-based environment that allows any authorized air force personnel to monitor and update recruiting center assets and work-order statuses.
This will help Air Force recruiters focus on recruiting efforts over facilities management, as well as improving recruiting center oversight for high-level leadership.
Brian Saab, founder and CEO of Unearth, says:
“The Air Force faces a similar problem to many of our private sector clients: finding modern software that connects siloed data with dispersed, physical assets & teams. Unearth solves this issue with a cutting edge SaaS solution that merges data and location. Our map-based project management platform is easy to roll out and scale, and provides the Air Force with a straightforward tool to reduce the burden of facilities management on recruiters.
Startups, like ours, are accustomed to innovating rapidly and moving fast with customers. Unsurprisingly, achieving similar velocity with the government is challenging. Through the SBIR program, we’ve been able to provide the Air Force the same state-of-the-art cloud software we offer the private sector, while side-stepping many of the typical government contracting hurdles that traditionally only established, enterprise players could tolerate.”
Learn more about Unearth here.
Lynq is a technology company that transforms how devices are connected. Lynq
has a phase I SBIR to enable pararescuemen (PJ) instructors to monitor, track, and locate Air Force special warfare trainees throughout land navigation training using a Lynq device paired to an Android team awareness kit (ATAK) enabled end-user device (EUD) to mitigate training risk.
Using Lynq throughout land navigation will improve situational awareness as all 50 personnel (as not just four instructors and staff) can participate in search operations. In the event of emergency recovery, because Lynq works without or without an EUD, Lync enables students to participate in life-saving search duties and accurately locates missing or injured members even before instructors or staff.
In addition, Lynq meets operational low-probability-to-intercept and low-probability-to-detect requirements in addition to the training ones and can be used for defense missions in combat zones.
A Technical Sergeant and Tactical Air Control Party Specialist Liaison of the Air Force Special Warfare Program Office, which works with end users, describes Lynq’s product as “a grab-and-go solution for clandestine messaging and battlefield tracking.”
Learn more about Lynq’s devices here.
RBC Signals, a multi-national provider of flexible and cost-effective space communication services, received a phase I SBIR award to provide innovative defense-related dual-purpose technologies/solutions for Air Force stakeholders.
RBC Signals plans to research needs for multi-mission ground stations as a service and highlight the dual commercial and government use capabilities of that ground infrastructure.
Learn more about RBC Signals’ SBIR phase I award here.
Amp Human is building upon two previous phase I SBIR awards with a phase II, where they will explore a hydration-related use case for their flagship product, PR lotion, with the 1st Special Operations Wing (1 SOW) of the United States Air Force.
According to Air Force personnel, the 1 SOW has a defense-related mission to optimize human performance, wellness, and resiliency. The Air Force will work with Amp Human to research and adapt their product to be used for hydration in addition to its current use for endurance and recovery.
Read more about Amp Human’s SBIR award here.
Ion Channel has a phase II SBIR award for secure software logistics to help the Air Force continuously deliver and assure software capabilities between network environments, either cross-domain or cloud-to-cloud. This will allow DoD to maintain continuity of operations in a multi-cloud infrastructure, post-JEDI, and keep secure networks up-to-date.
The Air Forces’ Chief Software Officer says Ion Channel’s combination of logistics and continuous assurance adds much-needed transparency when “continuity of mission operations and assurance is a particularly difficult problem on networks that are not connected to the Internet and an even bigger challenge with containerized software, which is designed to be portable.”
Learn more about Ion Channel’s SBIR award here.
Trifacta is a data-wrangling company with a phase I SBIR to help the Air Force bring Trifacta’s best-in-class data prep technology to customers that need to solve mission critical operational problems quickly and effectively in an open, collaborative and guided approach.
Learn more about Trifacta’s solutions here.
Trueface, a leader in facial recognition, was awarded a direct to Phase II, their third contract with the Air Force. Trueface will focus on frictionless access control via facial recognition at entry points in order to inhibit the spread of Covid-19 or similar virus by reducing physical contact while expediting access to the base and reducing traffic congestion.
Trueface CEO Shaun Moore commented, “We are proud to be playing our role in helping our Armed Forces reopen safely and responsibly.”
Learn more about Trueface’s solutions here.
More Dcode alumni companies with SBIR awards include Builder, Sema Software, RiskIQ, FocusMotion, and Nymbl on phase I, and Fraym and Imandra on phase II.
How to Leverage the SBIR program
For both tech and government, a phase III SBIR is the ultimate goal. A phase III enables the government to sole source contracts to the award-holder, and other agencies can leverage that sole-source privilege too*.
Sole-source contracts give agencies an easy way to scale products and solutions with no guardrails around timeline, funding ceiling, or competition requirements, empowering government leaders to get the right tech on contracts quickly, and giving tech companies an opportunity to get their foot in the door and scale products in the federal market.
In addition to making contracting with commercial tech easier for government agencies, the SBIR program offers benefits to both emerging tech companies looking to get a start or grow a presence in the federal market.
*This article focuses on the Department of Defense, which has the most flexibility in sole-sourcing through the SBIR program. For more information on other departments and agencies, get in touch with Dcode’s government experts at the GovHub at email@example.com or by visiting dcode.co/government →