The General Services Administration announced July 26 that it would be moving forward with a new pilot program to manage and grant awards under the third phase of the Small Business Innovation Research program, which encourages small businesses to explore research and development with federal partners.

Phases one and two of the program focus on the actual research and development, while the third phase is designed to help small businesses pursue the commercialization of the products they developed in the first two phases.

“Helping small businesses commercialize new solutions developed with assistance from the SBIR program increases the return on investment from federal research and development funding and supports private sector job growth,” said Small Business Administration Administrator Linda McMahon in a news release.

“The SBA looks forward to working with GSA to encourage the entrepreneurship and innovation associated with the SBIR program and continuing SBA’s efforts to impact the growth of our nation’s small businesses.”

The pilot will be led by the Assisted Acquisition Services’ Great Lakes Region and Federal Systems Integration and Management, with anticipation that the program will run through September 2019.

“For an organization to thrive, it has to promote a culture of responsible innovation,” said GSA’s Senior Procurement Executive Jeffrey Koses in the news release. “GSA achieves this by focusing the pilot on SBIR’s commercialization phase. This enables FEDSIM and Region 5, in collaboration with my office, to identify and resolve potential issues and share best practices that will inform our next steps.”

Currently, 13 agencies participate in the SBIR program:

  1. The Small Business Administration
  2. The U.S. Department of Agriculture
  3. The Department of Commerce
  4. The Department of Defense
  5. The Department of Education
  6. The Department of Energy
  7. The Department of Health and Human Services
  8. The Department of Homeland Security
  9. The Department of Transportation
  10. The Environmental Protection Agency
  11. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  12. The National Science Foundation
  13. The National Institute for Standards and Technology

Koses said in a July 29 press call that the pilot originated as demand from participating agencies grew for creating a SBIR pilot. GSA then engaged with the Small Business Administration to determine the logistics of launching the pilot.

“Many of those agencies lack a dedicated contracting shop to support these three SBIR contracts, so having an assisted acquisition to reform these contracts on behalf of those agencies sets off a dedicated support area, really after the shared service offering across government,” said Mark Lee, Federal Acquisition Service assistant commissioner in the Office of Policy and Compliance, on the same call.

“GSA’s SBIR pilot is an exciting opportunity to bring innovative solutions into the federal marketplace, support American small businesses, facilitate job creation and strengthen our industrial base,” said GSA Administrator Emily Murphy in the news release.

“Awarding SBIR Phase III contracts allows GSA to bring these cutting-edge solutions directly to our partner agencies. This is a great example of how GSA is improving the way federal agencies access and use technology to address complex problems.”