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DHS Marks 1,000th SBIR Contract, Highlights Recent Investments in Rapid DNA and CWMD

Laboratory Analyzer from ANDE - Rapid DNA for Forensics in Mass Casualty Event
ANDE’s Rapid DNA machine can analyze five DNA samples at a time. Here the BioChip with test tubes is being inserted. Image by ANDE Corporation.
DHS S&T SBIR Small Business Innovation Research Funding CWMD
Credit: DHS

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program has awarded the 1,000th SBIR contract since the program’s initiation in 2004. The 1,000th contract is one of twenty-four awarded as part of the FY19.1 Solicitation Phase I awards, bringing the total number of SBIR contracts to 1,018.

Counted amongst the many successful technologies advanced by the SBIR program is Rapid DNA, which quickly analyzes DNA to verify family relationships (kinship), and identify victims of mass casualty events and human trafficking. Last year Rapid DNA identified 85% of the victims of the California Camp Fire.

Other successful technologies include a low-cost flood sensor that monitors flood-prone areas in real-time and alerts officials, industry and citizens to potential threats like flash flooding; the Burn Saver Thermal Sensor, a small wearable device, designed to alert firefighters before the surrounding temperature damages their personal protective equipment.

Following the Camp Fire wildfire that killed 85 people and devastated communities in Paradise, California in the fall of 2018, ANDE staff analyze DNA samples in their own RV equipped with three Rapid DNA machines. The RV was parked in the coroner’s parking lot for quicker access to victim’s DNA to facilitate identification of remains. Image by ANDE Corporation.

To date, the DHS SBIR program has invested more than $319 million in small businesses to foster economic growth while addressing DHS technology needs.

The latest SBIR contracts, totaling nearly $3.6 million, were awarded to 22 companies in 11 states and the District of Columbia. Each of these Phase I awards will receive up to $150,000 to prove the feasibility of their concept over a six-month period in a specific area of research.

Nineteen of these awards were made through the DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and five through the DHS Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office (CWMD).

“The SBIR program is a valuable asset for CWMD as we work to support and equip the nation’s frontline defenders,” said James F. McDonnell, DHS Assistant Secretary for Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction.  “These small businesses tackle some of today’s most critical security challenges with ingenuity and determination.  I am grateful for their partnership and look forward to continuing to work together.”

Highlighted recent SBIR contracts include:

Reach-Back Capability for Fielded Rapid DNA Systems

  • Bode Cellmark Forensics, Inc. (Lorton, VA)
  • Parabon NanoLabs Inc. (Reston, VA)
  • SNA International (Alexandria, VA)

On-Body Power Module for First Responders

  • Cornerstone Research Group Inc. (Miamisburg, OH)
  • Intellisense Systems, Inc. (Torrance, CA)
  • TDA Research, Inc. (Wheat Ridge, CO)

Modeling-based Design of Sensors for Chemical Detection in Complex Environment

  • N5 Sensors (Rockville, MD)

Synthetic Training Data for Explosive Detection Machine Learning Algorithms

  • Innovision, LLC (Dayton, OH)
  • Synthetik Applied Technologies, LLC. (Pierre, SD)

Blockchain Applications for Homeland Security Forensic Analytics

  • Integra FEC (Austin, TX)

Detector Integration with Current and Emerging Networked Systems

  • WGS Systems, LLC (Frederick, MD)
  • BluEyeQ LLC (Charlotte, NC)

Unmanned Aerial System Autonomous Search of Limited Area for Radiological Threats

  • Intelligent Automation Inc. (Rockville, MD)
  • Charles River Analytics Inc. (Cambridge, MA)
  • Physical Sciences Inc. (Andover, MA)

The solicitation, released in December 2018, included the above topics developed by S&T and CWMD program managers to address the research and development needs of DHS components and the greater homeland security enterprise. At the completion of Phase I, small businesses may be eligible for a Phase II award based on their Phase I project results, and the scientific and technical merit and perceived commercialization potential of their Phase II proposal. The objective of Phase II is to continue the research or research and development effort toward a demonstrable prototype based on the completed Phase I.

The DHS SBIR Program is a competitive contract awards program to increase the participation of innovative and creative U.S. small businesses in federal research and development initiatives and to increase private sector commercialization of SBIR-funded solutions.

For more information about the DHS SBIR Program, visit the program portal

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