Success Stories

xTech Program matches small businesses with Army transition partners

Published: 01/22/2024
ANDRO Computational Solutions

By Anna Volkwine, Office of Army Prize Competitions and Army Applied SBIR Program

PHOTO CREDIT: ANDRO Computational Solutions, LLC.

WASHINGTON – While small and nontraditional businesses can solve some of the U.S. Army’s most extensive problems, the lack of connection with firms often impacts the technology exchange from innovator to Army.

The Army xTech and Army Small Business Innovation Research Programs aim to address this challenge. Both led by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, the programs help to facilitate connections between innovators and Army transition partners — supporting the discovery of cost-saving solutions for the Army.

xTech connections at work

In March 2021, xTech partnered with Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical to host the xTechSBIR Waveform competition, which solicited open-hardware architecture technologies for software-defined radios from small, U.S-based businesses. Four winners, announced in June 2021, received ASA(ALT)-funded Direct to Phase II SBIR contracts totaling nearly $6.8 million to develop and demonstrate their solutions.

With 20- to 24-month periods of performance, the small businesses began demonstrating the progress made on their technologies to Army stakeholders in summer 2023, and are continuing down the pathway to technology transition. While this journey is years in the making, the journey itself exists because of xTech’s flexible funding and mechanisms to connect PEO C3T, transition partners and the right small businesses with the right solutions.

The companies — R-DEX Systems, ANDRO Computational Solutions, Skylark Wireless and Epiq Solutions — are currently in separate phases of the transition process with potential Army customers. Dr. Sayeed Hasan, PEO C3T Project Manager Tactical Radios, played a key role during the planning stages of the competition and when PEO C3T presented its unique SDR challenge to xTech. He remains involved and plans to see the process through until the end — with high expectations for successful transitions.

“PEO C3T’s vision is for these companies to transition their solutions,” Hasan said. “Success would save the Army customer a tremendous amount of time by optimizing waveform porting for SDRs, and could potentially save the government and taxpayer millions of dollars.”

Since the conclusion of the xTechSBIR Waveform competition, the companies’ capabilities have progressed across varying technology readiness levels — or TRLs.

Next, three of the companies — R-DEX Systems, ANDRO and Skylark Wireless — will each demonstrate their final proof-of-concept between April and July 2024 to Dr. Hasan and a group of Army stakeholders. From there, further follow-on Army SBIR contracts ranging from a Sequential Phase II or Phase III will push these solutions across the finish line. The fourth winner, Epiq Solutions, is still actively developing their solution for Army use, but has since been procured by a larger company and is pursuing alternate transition pathways.

Dr. Hasan shared that while the solutions are not complete, they have the potential that PEO C3T is looking for in SDR solutions.

Transitioning beyond xTech and Army SBIR

Through ASA(ALT)-funded programs, small businesses have multiple opportunities to collaborate directly with Army transition partners. ANDRO Computational Solutions, for example, was a winner of xTechSBIR Waveform, and has also seen success in another ASA(ALT) endeavor, the Army SBIR CATALYST Pilot Program, which announced a total of five awardees in May 2023, including ANDRO. The CATALYST Program launched in February 2023 to use Army SBIR program funding with matching capital from Army transition partners and major weapons systems integrators to drive contracts up to $75 million to tackle Army customer challenges.

Dr. Jithin Jagannath, ANDRO’s chief scientist of technology, and Dr. Ashwin Amanna, ANDRO’s chief scientist of research, noted that the company offers a broad range of technologies and expertise at various TRLs. As solutions mature, ASA(ALT) has programs and pathways that help to bridge the valley of death small businesses often experience trying to break through in the Army market.

“ANDRO has experienced a great deal of value in getting our solution in front of various Army stakeholders with the opportunity to accelerate the transition process,” Jagannath said. “The CATALYST Program incentivizes us and prime contractors to work together by rewarding collaborations. Similarly, the Phase II Sequential from the xTechSBIR Waveform competition provides a roadmap beyond Phase II to solve specific problems that are a high priority for customers.”

Thanks to the ASA(ALT) programming of xTech and Army SBIR, ANDRO now has multiple potential transition partners and increased possibilities, including working with Hasan’s office to identify a transition partner within the PM Tactical Radios umbrella.

“The focus is identifying a transition partner, and developing and customizing the statement of work so it focuses on the needs of the transition partner,” Hasan said.

The xTech Program holds several competitions per year, from open-topic competitions such as xTechSearch to technology-specific competitions targeting specific Army needs and challenges. For all competition information, go to the xTech website.

The Army SBIR Program releases contract opportunities ad hoc to respond to current and anticipated warfighting technology needs. For eligibility information and a list of open topics, please visit the Army SBIR|STTR website.

The Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology leverages technologies and capabilities to provide U.S. Soldiers a decisive advantage in any environment by developing, acquiring, fielding and sustaining the world’s finest equipment and services. For more information, visit the ASA(ALT) web page.

ANDRO Computational Solutions

xTech Program matches small businesses with Army transition partners

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