DHS Small Business Innovation Research Awards 1,000th Contract

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The Homeland Security Department program celebrated a small business contracting milestone this week.

Fifteen years after the Homeland Security Department awarded its first Small Business Innovation Research contract, the agency surpassed its 1,000th such award Friday.

The DHS Science and Technology Directorate announced 24 new awards Friday totaling $3.6 million, bringing the total number of SBIR awards issued since the program launched in 2004 to 1,018. DHS has invested more than $319 million in the program over the past decade and a half.

“This is a huge milestone for the DHS SBIR program as it signifies our history of investment in America’s innovative small businesses from which numerous technologies and concepts have been developed to support the homeland security mission,” said William Bryan, senior official performing the duties of the undersecretary for science and technology, said in a statement.  “We look forward to continuing the excellent work of the DHS SBIR program and developing innovative solutions for the future.”

The department’s SBIR program focuses on low-risk, high-reward investments in technological areas relevant to national security. In the past, the program has funded a variety of technologies that have gone onto to have major ramifications. Among them: Rapid DNA, which allows law enforcement officials to quickly analyze DNA samples to verify kinship; low-cost flood sensors that monitor flood planes in real-time to provide data to public officials and the Burn Saver Thermal Sensor, a small device firefighters wear to alert them to temperature changes.

The latest batch of SBIR awards will go to 22 companies across 11 states. They are “phase-one” awards of up to $150,000 to prove the feasibility of their concepts over a six-month period. The awards were made across ten topic areas, including identity, credential and access management, synthetic training data for explosive detection machine learning algorithms, blockchain applications and networking modeling for risk assessments.