Building Powerhouse Partnerships
The Army SBIR CATALYST Program
Fusing the power of prime integrators and U.S. small businesses is critical to accelerating innovation to equip the Warfighter of 2030. Enter, the Army SBIR CATALYST Program.
SBIR CATALYST unites the Army, prime integrators and small businesses to create cutting-edge technology — propelling concepts to final transition and commercialization. With contract amounts nearly 8 times larger than typical SBIR awards, small businesses and their Army and industry partners will drive Army priorities and support modernization efforts.
During the 2023 pilot year, the Army SBIR Program will award up to five small businesses with CATALYST contract awards — each up to $15 million in funding. CATALYST-eligible small businesses this year will have been awarded an Army SBIR|STTR award within the last four fiscal years but have not yet been awarded a second SBIR|STTR Phase II under the same project. CATALYST awards will focus on technology areas including Sensors; Climate/Clean Tech in the face of climate change; Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning resiliency; Autonomy; Immersives/Wearables; and supply-chain logistics in the INDOPACOM region.
While every CATALYST awardee is responsible for identifying an Army transition partner and prime integrator to collaborate in its technology development, all partners benefit from a unique Army environment of funding and niche expertise. These conditions allow innovation to fail forward, improve, and evolve toward transition and commercialization.
The Army SBIR Contracting Center of Excellence will execute all SBIR CATALYST contracts, placing money in the hands of innovators faster and responding to Army needs efficiently. A Request for Proposal (RFP) will be issued to identified and recommended firms by either their contracting officer, technical point of contact, Program Executive Office (PEO), and/or Technical Broker Team on February 20, with all proposals due March 15. Selected awardees will be announced in May.
The contract award is a two-level funding structure. Recipients will receive a base award of up to $1 million over a 6-to-12-month period of performance (PoP). Following the base phase, recipients can receive CATALYST Enhancement Phase II funds of up to $7 million of Army SBIR funds, up to $3.5 million in funding from their Army Transition partner, and up to $3.5 million from their project’s prime integrator. This award will be based on a matching fund ratio of 2:1:1 over a 12-to-24 month PoP.
The program will only award CATALYST Phase II Enhancement funds after a successful base performance — and if the Army Transition partner and prime integrator have available funding.
Have questions? Interested in learning more?
Click here to view the webinar recording.
Reach out to the Army SBIR Team via the Contact Us page.
CATALYST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
If I’m an interested small business, how do I apply? Who do I contact? What information do you need from me?
To apply, please have your Army technical point of contact/contracting officer reach out here with your SBIR Topic number, company name, contract number, Transition Partner (PEO), and Integrator (Prime/OEM).
Are firms executing SBIRs in other federal or defense agencies eligible for this?
For our Army SBIR CATALYST pilot in FY23, companies must have been awarded an Army SBIR|STTR Phase I and/or Phase II contract award aligning with the proposed technology transition program within the past four fiscal years (FY19 to FY22). However, we are looking to expand the SBIR CATALYST Program if we have significant interest from Army customers, small businesses and large integrators, which could include opening eligibility to SBIR awardees under other federal agencies.
Does a prize award through an Army xTech competition meet eligibility requirements?
No, not unless the Army xTech awardee received an Army SBIR/STTR Phase I and/or Phase II contract award as part of their xTech competition.
Are Army STTR projects also eligible for CATALYST?
Yes, if recommended by their COR, TPOC, Army customer (PEO), and/or Army Applied SBIR Portfolio Manager, they will be transferred to the SBIR program, and the STTR program requirement of a research institute will no longer be required.
If a company has been awarded multiple Army SBIRs, are they still eligible?
Yes, there is not currently a restriction on the number of Army SBIR awards to be eligible; however, companies must not yet have been awarded a second Army SBIR|STTR Phase II under the same topic number.
How is Army SBIR CATALYST different from STRATFI/TACFI?
Companies should check the STRATFI/TACFI construct and requirements with the Air Force. In general, TACFI/STRATFI require matching funds from private capital. Army SBIR CATALYST incentivizes prime integrators to support innovation from small firms by investing in technology development and facilitating transition and integration into larger systems.
Is this a one-time program or do you expect it to continue?
The Army SBIR CATALYST pilot started in FY23, and we expect the program to continue and expand eligibility requirements if we have significant interest from Army customers, small businesses and large integrators, which could include opening eligibility to SBIR awardees under other federal agencies and/or small businesses not yet awarded a SBIR contract with any federal agency.
What are the relevant deadlines once selected to apply?
A TPOC/COR must receive recommendations for application by Feb. 17, 2023. The Army SBIR Contracting Center of Excellence will issue an RFP to the recommended small businesses on Feb. 20. Proposals as instructed within the RFP will be due no later than noon EDT March 15. Selection results will be sent to small businesses no later than May 10. The SBIR Contracting Center of Excellence will issue contracts to selected small businesses no later than Sept. 30.
Can the Army acquisition partner and/or prime integrator funding come from more than one entity?
Yes, as long as the total from each does not exceed $3.5 million.
Can the prime integrator funds be “in-kind” or equity investment, or does it have to be direct funding?
The program is designed for investment. “In-kind” will not be accepted.
When am I expected to secure matching funds?
A letter of endorsement from the transition partner and integrator is required for the proposal submission, and the small businesses will have the base period to secure those funds with their partners during this period of performance.
The SBIR CATALYST webpage references a project’s “prime integrator.” Can you define this term?
A prime integrator is typically a large business that directly and regularly works with the federal government and integrates technologies to deliver a final product
Does CATALYST provide support for identifying possible prime integrators? How can my small business approach a prime integrator to determine their interest in involvement?
During the 6- to 12-month base period of performance, there will be an opportunity to network with prime integrators through the Technical and Business Assistance Program and the Army Applied SBIR Accelerator, which, in addition to education and mentorship, provide customer discovery and relationship-building mechanisms.
What incentive do prime integrators have to provide matching funds to the small businesses’ projects? Would this require small businesses to forfeit SBIR data or IP rights?
The incentive is that the prime integrator is investing in a technology that has a known Army need and a known Army transition partner (i.e., PEO, PM, etc). Further, for every one dollar that the integrator invests, they “receive” $3 of government funding in R&D at the small business. In other words, rather than taking on 100% of the burden and cost to develop and integrate a SBC technology into their program, 75% of the R&D, prototyping and transition is sponsored by the government.
In Fall 2022, Hon. Gabe Camarillo, Under Secretary of the Army announce several efforts and strategic initiatives, including SBIR CATALYST to expand partnerships between prime integrators, small businesses and the Army to strengthen not only the U.S. industrial base, but also national defense.
Where can I find additional information about SBIR CATALYST?
You can view the recording of our Army SBIR CATALYST Webinar here for additional information about the program.