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How the Government Can Use the SBIR Program to Scale Innovation

By July 15, 2021January 24th, 2022No Comments

This post is the fourth in a series by Anduril Industries to provide recommendations and solutions to address the challenges of scaling technology within the Department of Defense. The innovation problem that the DoD faces was outlined in this op-ed in Defense News.

As the United States’ security and humanitarian challenges evolve both at home and abroad, the imperative to tap into the private sector’s most gifted engineers and entrepreneurs increases. To do so, the federal government funds a robust and growing list of entities bringing non-traditional companies into government work — the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), AFWERX, Army Futures Command, NavalX, and the Customs and Border Protection Innovation Team, to name a few.

These agencies are well equipped to provide initial funding to new entrants and deserve our support. But experts from Congress, the Department of Defense, and elsewhere increasingly acknowledge that it is stepping from pilot program to scaled program of record — crossing the “valley of death” — that proves the biggest impediment to bringing new players into government work.

Previous pieces in this series have presented a variety of solutions to this problem. In this piece, however, we urge the government not to forget one of its most powerful tools to scale innovation that already exists: the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.