DHS Seeks National Security Tech from Small Businesses

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Officials finalized the 10 focus areas for groups participating in next year’s Small Business Innovation Research program.

The Homeland Security Department on Wednesday began accepting proposals from small businesses looking to develop national security technologies.

The agency released the final solicitation for next year’s Small Business Innovation Research program, an initiative that helps startups and small companies develop and commercialize technologies with potential national security implications. Vendors interested in joining must apply by Jan. 23. The first phase of the program is scheduled to kick off in May.

Homeland Security officials outlined 10 topics of interest for next year’s program, including using drones to detect radiological threats, sharing cyber threat data, using blockchain for forensic analysis, and advanced identity management—from DNA to cyberspace. The agency’s Science and Technology Directorate will oversee projects in eight technical areas, and its Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office will manage efforts in the other two.

“The SBIR program allows DHS to engage small business innovators in developing solutions for homeland security challenges,” William Bryan, the senior official performing the duties of the undersecretary for science and technology, said in a statement.

Participants are eligible for up to $150,000 in federal funding for the program’s first phase, which focuses on testing the tech’s feasibility, and $1 million for the second phase, where groups build a working prototype. In 2015, organizations on average received about $113,000 in funding for part one and $715,000 for part two, according to the agency’s SBIR dashboard.

Unlike previous years, Homeland Security officials will allow all teams participating in phase one to apply for the next stage. In earlier rounds of the program, groups were allowed to advance on an invite-only basis.

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