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Army seeks AI innovations to drive technology transition

Published: 02/21/2023
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By Daniel Smoot, Office of Army Prize Competitions and Army Applied SBIR Program

WASHINGTON – While the Army continues to make strides in modernizing key technology areas, it lacks a simple and intuitive online portal to facilitate innovation and transition of novel technologies into the Army enterprise.

To address this, the Army Applied SBIR Program seeks innovative small businesses to create the Army Tech Marketplace — a user-friendly, web-based data management platform that simplifies access to R&D-funded technologies. This portal will improve information-sharing and collaboration between Army researchers and acquisition offices, innovative technology developers, and integrators.

“A searchable, on-demand marketplace eliminates knowledge barriers, supports technology alignment within major weapons systems programs and creates resourcing for transition roadmaps and opportunities,” said Dr. Matt Wilis, director of Army Prize Competitions and the Army Applied SBIR Program, within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology. “The marketplace will also contribute to several major ASA(ALT)-led innovative initiatives designed to incentivize collaboration between small businesses, large integrators and the Army.”

Through the Army Tech Marketplace solicitation, the Army will assess whether the portal can easily compile information such as technological capabilities, maturity level and milestone delivery schedules among small-business technologies.

The Army Tech Marketplace requires eight criteria for success:

  • Businesses must ensure there are two distinct levels of information access and platform views for internal Army stakeholders and external, emerging technology vendors.
  • The portal should allow for collaboration between multiple Army users and private sector innovation economy businesses.
  • Companies need to design an intuitive interface that requires minimum familiarity with basic portal navigation.
  • The platform should have features such as process tracking, routing, reminders and the ability to assign follow-on tasks.
  • The marketplace should be modular and capable of easy expansion.
  • Vendors must ensure the platform can easily retrieve data and insights while tracking progress on pre-determined metrics.
  • The portal should offer data analytics and AI-enabled tools for technology-trend analysis.
  • Companies are required to provide a lifecycle cost model to account for implementation, training, licensing and support costs.

Contract awards up to $200,000

Small-business selectees can receive Army Phase I Small Business Innovation Research contract awards of up to $200,000 each to develop the new AI-enabled online portal. Throughout the four-month contract period of performance, awardees will work with Army experts that provide critical input to develop and design the proposed platform.

Phase I selectees may also apply for a follow-on Phase II contract. Under a Phase II contract, businesses must refine their concept and create a viable portal for testing and evaluation by the Army Applied SBIR Program and its stakeholders.

If the technologies show promise, companies could eventually transition to a Phase III, with dual-use application potential within the Army SBIR Program as well as other Army research centers and acquisition programs.

The pre-release period for the new solicitation is from February 21 to March 15. During this time, businesses can submit questions through email, or through the Defense SBIR|STTR Innovation Portal. Qualified companies start submitting proposals March 16 through April 11 at noon EDT. Businesses must submit full proposal packages through the DSIP Portal.

Small-business opportunities

With a greater focus on contracting at speed and transitioning technology into Army acquisition programs, the Army evolved its approach to the Small Businesses Innovation Research Program. While the Army SBIR program has always sought innovative solutions, it has an increased focus on dual-use capabilities that meet Army needs and have commercial potential — resulting in a greater likelihood of enduring success for U.S. small businesses.

This innovative approach enables small businesses to capitalize on Army resources — including technical points of contact, acquisition programs and rapid contracting through the Army SBIR Contracting Center of Excellence — while also broadening the use-case of the advanced computing and software-integrated network systems beyond the Army.

“Our reinvigorated approach to technology solicitations highlights the importance of the program’s efforts to support both the Army and the commercial sector,” Willis said. “We are excited about what companies can offer and the potential of AI/ML technologies across industry.”

About ASA(ALT) and the Army Applied SBIR Program

The Army Applied SBIR Program provides a valuable opportunity for small businesses to engage with technical, acquisition and operational subject matter experts. These experts offer insight into technology needs while guiding them through the Army research and development ecosystem.

Small businesses collaborate with technical points of contact that serve as resources as they mature their technologies for transition into Army acquisition programs. The program’s flexibility and timeliness also maximize the initial cash flow for small businesses while minimizing the time to contract.

The Army Applied SBIR Program releases contract opportunities on a rolling basis to respond to the Army’s current and anticipated technology needs. For a list of open topics and eligibility information, visit

The Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology gives the American Soldier a decisive advantage in any mission by developing, acquiring, fielding and sustaining the world’s finest equipment and services. It also leverages its technological capabilities to meet current and future Army needs. For more information, visit

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Army seeks AI innovations to drive technology transition

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