Science & Technology Corner

Small Businesses: Innovating for the Department of Defense

The Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) was established in 2011 by the National Defense Authorization Act as a competitive, merit based program to accelerate the fielding of innovative technologies. The projects are primarily developed by small businesses, and are selected to help reduce technical risk or development, acquisition, sustainment or lifecycle cost in support of major defense acquisition programs. The selected projects are required to be completed within two years and within a $3 million threshold.

Since 2011, $889 Million has been appropriated to be used for research and development in the key areas defined by the Army, Navy, Air Force and various Agencies/Programs within the Office of the Secretary of Defense.  263 contract awards have been awarded to date (FY2012 and 2013 awards) and an additional ~100 are expected to be awarded by Fall 2014. 

Investments have been targeted to support defense requirements, but have changed to adapt to the evolving priorities.  For example, in 2011-12, the emphasis was on responding to urgent operational issues in support of ongoing global operations, including Afghanistan.  With the budget downturn in 2013-14, requirements migrated to supporting Better Buying Power, providing an avenue for technology innovation and refresh for legacy defense acquisition programs.

Examples of some of the awards to date include:

  • Advanced Combat Surveillance Kit (Army): A lightweight, low-power sensor for unattended, localization and tracking of dismounts and vehicles in challenging operational environments
  • Port Security Barrier Intrusion Detection System (Navy): To ensure that threats cannot exploit undetected gaps, using optic-electronic alarm and software monitors on gates
  • Lightweight Tactical Suitcase Portable Receive Suite (Air Force): Enables deployed military forces to access global broadcast system for satellite imagery, weather info, map data, classified and unclassified intelligence
  • Multi-Missile Common Launch Tube (US Special Operations Command): Doubles the number of targets that can be engaged from the same platform with increased precision that minimizes collateral damage.

For more information about  funded projects and recent Rapid Innovation Fund activities, visit the Defense Innovation Marketplace website.  

Updated 10/15/14
Dept of Defense US Air Force OASAALT RDECOM ONR NRL US Air Force Joint Chiefs of Staff Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Force Health Protection & Readiness Defense Threat Reduction Agency Missile Defense Agency Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization Chemical & Biological Defense Program