Breaking into the intelligence community with a new, innovative idea isn’t easy.
For smaller companies, it can be especially challenging to find the right person to talk to and the resources to build and showcase a solution against IC standards without spending a fortune.
These are issues the Defense Intelligence Agency is hoping to address through its Needipedia and Open Innovation Gateway initiatives, both of which are expanding the agency’s base of potential vendors and contributors to meet mission needs.
Last fall, DIA launched Needipedia to express its needs to a larger community of innovators. Individuals, companies and academia can submit ideas and proposals for grants or contracts through an open broad agency announcement, based on DIA’s specific needs.
DIA is bringing online other versions of Needipedia for its classified audience and to address DIA needs that are unclassified but have some level of sensitivity, said Dan Doney, DIA’s chief innovation officer.
For sensitive but unclassified acquisition needs, DIA will use its Open Innovation Gateway — or Gateway for short — to reach out to vetted and trusted providers. While Needipedia addresses a broad range of DIA’s acquisition needs, the Gateway is largely focused on IT for now.
Doney said the Gateway has the feel of a web portal and requires participants to sign up before interacting with other users in the space. Users will have access to information based on the level of trust with DIA, which comes from being affiliated with an entity that has been vetted.
Gateway participants will have access to application program interfaces or APIs that enable developers to create applications and new tools that easily interact with DIA’s existing technology. Those solutions must also be built to DIA’s internal security standards, which Gateway users are privy to.
In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s nonprofit investment arm, research activities and other sources of emerging technologies can use the Gateway to “showcase capabilities directly to end-users rather than forcing travel to conferences or site visits,” DIA Director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, said in the agency’s innovation strategic plan.
DIA is releasing a Gateway alpha version for a select list of providers to work out the kinks, Doney said. A public version will be released June 24, coinciding with the agency’s innovation day.
As a contributor and adopter of the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise, the IC’s strategy for consolidating its technology infrastructure, DIA is exposing mission requirements that will be compliant with the ICITE environment.
“Having a place where they can have a direct interaction with end users will save them years’ worth of business development,” Doney said of smaller companies.■