Navy opens up $30M in small business tech funding to stabilize supply chain

Naval Supply Systems Command Fleet Logistics Center Pearl Harbor Ocean Terminal Division collaborates Nov. 13, 2019, with 165 active, reserve and civilian personnel to redeploy cargo from the Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, Louisiana. (U.S. Navy / Shannon Haney)

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The Navy is trying to do its part to support small businesses and startups during the coronavirus.

The Office of Naval Research is offering $30 million in contracts for companies that can provide innovative advanced technology to the Department of the Navy.

The announcement is a part of a larger effort to send money through the Navy’s supply chain to ensure companies that work with the department stay afloat during the pandemic. The Navy expects to award more than $250 million over the next 90 days to small businesses, the service said in a news release Monday.

The money will be awarded through the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs, which allow money to be put in the hands of small businesses faster than traditional solicitations.

The initial $30 million will be available until May 31.

“During this national emergency, the Naval Research Enterprise must engage all activities to ensure we accomplish our current workload, make sure vital naval partners survive current economic conditions, and bring in new partners,” DON SBIR and STTR Director Bob Smith said in the release. “I’m proud the DoN SBIR/STTR programs are taking bold steps to maintain the defense industrial base through accelerated funding awards.”

The types of technology the Navy is looking for in this latest broad agency announcement are related to modernization and sustainment, digital logistics, deployable manufacturing and resilient communications.

James “Hondo” Geurts, the Navy’s top acquisition official, said recently the department is monitoring the department’s supply chain in real-time with new tools to ensure it stays stable. Defense officials and outside experts have worried that a faltering economy and lockdown orders will disrupt the military’s supply chain and readiness.

In particular, the Navy is watching its research and development for emerging technology very closely, Geurts said.

“We can’t afford to take a year or two off R&D,” Geurts said during the virtual Sea-Air-Space 2020 conference earlier in April. “The risk is being too risk-averse in our approach,” he added.

Other Navy research offices are also looking to serve as a “technology enablers.” The Naval Expeditions Agility Office is looking for ways to better connect warfighters with small business and tech experts. The goal is to deliver advanced technology solutions to national security challenges and ensure that small businesses can continue to operate and work with the Navy.

Other services like the Air Force have stressed that its emerging technology supply chain remains strong as it races to send more money to the defense economy.

-In this Story-

Acquisition, Department of Navy, Hondo Geurts, Office of Naval Research, research and development, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), Small Business Technology Transfer program, supply chain
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