DOD smooths funding path for entrepreneurs

The Defense SBIR/STTR Innovation Portal makes it easier for entrepreneurs to present great ideas to the Defense Department.

Lawmakers and defense officials often tout small businesses as the key to innovation. But connecting small companies with the nearly $1 billion in funds the Defense Department awards each year is often difficult and complex — even down to the application process. A new approach under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs aims to transform how those companies interact with DOD.

Small businesses are often on the frontlines of economic development and job growth, and their performance was tested when the pandemic and health safety mandates affected their ability to operate. To make it easier for entrepreneurs to present great ideas directly to DOD and earn new business, the department built a shared technology platform called the Defense SBIR/STTR Innovation Portal (DSIP).

The cloud-based portal, which was designed to be user-centric and accessible for people with disabilities, combines requirements for 15 DOD components, including the Army, U.S. Special Operations Command and Defense Logistics Agency. Additionally, DSIP helps applicants verify the completeness of their proposals and includes business process automation and plug-and-play modules for microservices so the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) can easily incorporate changes to law, policy and context.

So far, the project has helped OSD process applications faster, yielding a 10% increase in volume and garnering 20% more first-time submissions to DOD’s SBIR/STTR programs. Moreover, the portal makes it easier for OSD to track funding expenditures and program results and comply with reporting requirements from the Small Business Administration, DOD leaders, the Office of Management and Budget, and Congress.

This article was first posted on GCN as part of the 2021 Public Sector Innovation award winner profiles. 

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