February 17, 2020

As part of  BMNT’s work to provide mission-driven entrepreneurs with world-class tools to solve critical national security challenges at scale, we’re developing a way to increase the speed of transitioning innovative technologies into everyday use for our customers by making use of the Department of Defense’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. SBIR provides funding for domestic small businesses to meet Federal research and development needs. We chose this program due to a demand signal from several of our customers who have been adapting SBIR to fit their specific needs. For example, AFWERX’s “open innovation special topics” solicitation and the U.S. Navy’s Accelerated Delivery and Acquisition of Prototype Technologies (ADAPT) pilot both take an improved approach to funding awards, accelerating decision timelines, minimizing application requirements and proposal processes, and removing other commonly cited “barriers to entry.”

In conjunction with our customer’s efforts already underway, BMNT has begun defining initial features to build into Aurora that could further accelerate technology transitions using SBIR.  The goal of this functionality is to act as a digital wayfinder, inspired by the way transition agents operate – as matchmakers. Transition agents can exist within or outside of the government and can be employed by the government or small business communities. They rely on their personal network to match existing government programs with needs to companies with potential solutions – a process that relies heavily on serendipity, which is inherently unscalable. Aurora solves that problem.

Today, BMNT team members perform the transition agent role as a service to our customers. For example, we identified and connected small businesses with solutions to two of the Air Force’s prioritized problems in 2019. These businesses were awarded a total of $5.25M through the SBIR program to continue development and transition their solutions. The new Aurora transition functionality seeks to enable transition agents to be “matchmakers on steroids” and to empower solution providers to find the right government need for their product themselves. Later iterations may also integrate time constraints and automate notifications to ensure organizations and their solution providers make progress toward solution adoption. Our goal is to increase the speed and frequency of transitioning solutions that solve our nation’s most critical problems.

While we are still in the early stages of development to roll out this feature, the design will be informed by several experts who have acted as transition agents and those who have submitted SBIR applications. Through conversations with these key beneficiaries, we have identified some critical questions to help match potential solutions to government needs. There’s still much work to be done, but we’re excited to deliver this functionality in Aurora in 2020 and transform how our government identifies and transitions solutions.