Building Powerhouse Partnerships

The Army SBIR Catalyst Program

Fusing the power of integrators and U.S. small businesses is critical in accelerating innovation to equip the Warfighter of 2030. Enter the Army SBIR CATALYST Program.

Army SBIR CATALYST unites the Army, integrators and small businesses to create innovative technologies — propelling concepts to final transition and commercialization. With contracts up to eight times larger than typical SBIR awards, small businesses and their Army and industry partners can drive Army priorities and support modernization efforts.

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. The Army SBIR CATALYST pilot launched in February 2023, followed by the second iteration of the program, unveiled at the October 2023 AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition.

The Army SBIR Program will select up to five small businesses for new CATALYST contracts — totaling up to $75 million over the duration of their potential awards. To ensure the U.S. can overcome any adversary, the current Army SBIR CATALYST Program prioritizes ecosystems such as artificial intelligence and machine learning; autonomy; climate and clean tech; contested logistics and sustainment; immersive and wearables; and sensors.

Spurring Innovation Across the Department of Defense

Army SBIR CATALYST will require interested Army transition partners to recommend SBIR projects for the program via an application process. Additionally, federal agencies outside the Army can work with an Army transition partner to submit a CATALYST application with the topic and recommended small business.

The Army SBIR Contracting Center of Excellence will execute all SBIR CATALYST contracts, quickly placing money in the hands of innovators and efficiently responding to Army needs.

The contract is a two-level funding structure. Phase II and Direct to Phase II recipients receive a base award of up to $1 million over a 6-to-12-month performance period. Meanwhile, Sequential Phase II awards require the small business to have a matching investment at the time of award. Following the base phase or matching investment, 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 integrator. The Army will base the award on a 2:1:1 matching fund ratio over a 12-to-24-month PoP.

The program will only award CATALYST Phase II Enhancement funds following a successful base performance — and if the Army transition partner and integrator have available funding.

Watch a webinar on the Army SBIR CATALYST Program here.

Have any questions? Interested in learning more? Reach out to the Army SBIR Team via the Contact Us page.


Andro Leading Edge Comunications

ANDRO Computational LLC

DeepSPEC: Artificial Intelligence-Powered Blind Signal Detector and Classifier

Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning

Potential transition partner: PEO Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensor (PL Tactical Space Superiority)


Compound Eye Inc.

VIDAS-SLAM: Undetectable, GPS Denied Mapping and Positioning


Potential transition partner: PEO Ground Combat Systems

EM Photonics

EM Photonics Inc.

Image Analysis Approach for Wind Management


Potential transition partner: PEO Soldier (Individual Weapons)

R-DEX Systems

R-Dex Systems, Inc.

Blue Jay: Strengthening SIGINT Classifiers and Identifying Adversarial Attacks

Immersive and Wearables

Potential transition partner: PEO IEW&S (PD Sensors-Aerial Intelligence)


Solvus Global LLC

Repair & Restoration of Gun Tubes

Contested Logistics and Sustainment 

Potential transition partners: DEVCOM Armaments Center, DEVCOM Army Research Laboratory, and PEO Ground Combat Systems (PM Main Battle Tank Systems)

CATALYST Frequently Asked Questions

What is the technical objective of Army SBIR CATALYST?

The technical objective of Army SBIR CATALYST is to test and demonstrate proposed solutions at a PEO-sponsored demonstration and to increase the speed of technology transition into Army Programs of Record.

The small business shall provide a technical approach that meets the following objectives: (1) Test/demonstrate proposed solutions at a PEO-sponsored demonstration, (2) rapid technology transition into Army Programs of Record, (3) clear and demonstrable impact and transition, (4) demonstrate the development, maturation, risk reduction, and prototype development within one or more of the relevant Secretary of the Army technology capability gaps.

Who is eligible for Army SBIR CATALYST?

To be eligible to receive a Phase II Sequential or Phase II Enhancement CATALYST award, a small business must have been awarded a base Phase II SBIR|STTR award by any government organization executed no earlier than FY20.

New for FY24, a PEO must submit a CATALYST application from the transition partner (PEO) prior to an RFP to be released from the CCoE. This is to ensure that all aspects of the CATALYST program are met by the Transition Partner/Integrator/Small Business Concern.

A PEO may recommend a SBC for a Direct to Phase II CATALYST via the application process, which will allow the small business to submit a Direct to Phase II CATALYST proposal if they performed the Phase I research through other funding sources.

What technical areas is the program focusing on?

The SBIR CATALYST Program’s technical areas of focus include sensors; climate and clean tech; artificial intelligence and machine learning; autonomy; and contested logistics and sustainment; sensors; and immersive and wearables.

What does the award structure look like?

SBIR CATALYST’s contract structure will offer up to five small businesses multiphase funding opportunities starting in FY24. The five awards will include any combination of Phase II ($15 million), Direct to Phase II ($15 million), or Sequential Phase II ($15 million), or Phase II Enhancement ($14 million) awards.

Phase II, and Direct to Phase II and Sequential Phase II contracts will include $1 million in SBIR funding each during the base award period. To receive a Phase II, or Sequential Phase II, or Phase II Enhancement contract, the small business contractor must have executed the base award no earlier than FY20. Sequential Phase II Enhancement awards will also require the small business to have the matching investment at the time of award, and therefore, will not include a base award.

Following the initial base award — or the matching investment for Sequential Phase II Enhancement selectees — businesses can leverage Army SBIR CATALYST enhancement funds for their Phase II projects worth up to $7 million in SBIR capital, $3.5 million in integrator financing and up to $3.5 million from Army transition partners.

This 2:1:1 funding ratio provides small businesses with a potential $15 million investment, driving the total FY24 contract pool up to $75 million among the five small businesses. Via Army SBIR CATALYST’s new funding and submission process, the program will leverage this capital to buy down risk for the Army’s larger, more scalable acquisition profile in FY24 and beyond.

What is the evaluation criteria?

Commercialization/Transition Potential (50%), Technical Feasibility/Risk (25%), Firm Ability (15%), Alignment with HQDA priorities and National Defense Strategy (10%)

What is the Period of Performance (PoP) for the awards under SBIR CATALYST?

The base award is 6-12 months while the Phase II enhancement is 12-24 months.

What is expected of a TPOC/COR?

TPOC/CORs are expected to facilitate finding matching funds and conduct business as usual for project oversight. They will also potentially assist with finding government endorsement, giving guidance on work involved and providing a recommendation for award.

What prompted SBIR CATALYST? What challenges does the SBIR CATALYST Program overcome?

The strength of our nation is rooted in a strong commercial economy comprised of small businesses that are ready, willing and able to help us build an enduring advantage. The Army has a long history of robust engagement with small businesses, leading the Department of Defense and the federal agencies for small business achievements.  Building the Army of 2030 requires close examination of our relationship with industry, and decisive action to ensure the health and resiliency of the industrial base. The Army SBIR mission is to employ capital to make modest Research and Development (R&D) investments that leverage capital to “buy-down” risk for the Army’s larger, more scalable research and development and acquisitions.

What incentives does the Integrator have in participating in SBIR CATALYST?

Incorporating innovative and sometimes unproven technology creates performance and cost risk for both the Integrator and the Army. Risks can be mitigated by incentivizing greater utilization of technologies developed through established Army and DoD programs. The integrator is investing in a technology that has a known Army need and has 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 small business concern SBC technology into their program, 75% of the R&D, prototyping and transition is sponsored by the government.

What incentives does the Army customer have for partnering with small businesses and integrators?

By partnering with integrators and small business, the Army diversifies its industrial base, while decreasing cost and risk potential.

What expectations does the Army have from the Integrator and Transition Partner supporting the Small Business?

The Integrator and Transition Partner are expected to effectively guide technologies to maturation as well as provide matching funding.

How did the concept of Integrator and Transition Partner matching come about? Why is this strategy being used for SBIR CATALYST funding?

The program will strengthen alignment of technology exploration and development with building the Army of 2030, synergize Army investments with Integrators, and drive down transition risk through a shared-risk structure and matching funding. Many technologies fail to transition or make it beyond development. This structure helps reduce the investing risk while also increasing the funding to address transition-related challenges.

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