Madison Quinn (L) and Danielle Golson ® of ECS share the benefits of using simulation when training with military working dog manikins at SBIR/STTR Partnership Day

By Shane Klestinski, Associate Editor

 

Central Florida Tech Grove held its fourth Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Partnership Day in Orlando, Florida, June 11.

 

Partnership Day highlighted innovations from 16 tech companies in the modeling, simulation and training community that have received SBIR/STTR awards from various entities in the Department of Defense (DOD). These programs support technological innovation by investing in research required to build a healthy economy and improve national security. Attending companies represented phase II awardees and displayed their solutions at booths throughout Tech Grove.

 

“Today’s event features these wonderful companies that have worked very hard and put a lot of effort into their SBIR awards,” said Tracy Boyd, Ph.D., Tech Grove’s SBIR/STTR coordinator and outreach. “They’ve proved that their solutions can work, and now the next step is putting them into production to help the warfighter by putting those solutions in the field. Partnership Day is all about moving that process forward. We have government and industry people [in attendance] who are looking for partnerships and looking to connect with these great organizations.”

 

Engineering and Computer Solutions (ECS) is a small business that has received both phase II and phase III awards through the SBIR program, and it develops simulations for front-line workers and military personnel. Madison Quinn, research lead at ECS, said her team was attending Partnership Day to increase awareness of its military working dog manikin.

 

“We want people to realize how effective our canines are in military units,” Quinn said. “Everybody talks about combat casualty care, which is very important, but a lot of those conversations skip over the needs of canines, and we’ve got to be able to save them as well. [The canine manikin will] make noises and demonstrate symptoms of health emergencies, like heat stroke, for example. We want to give warfighters exposure to such scenarios prior to actually being in life-or-death situations, just like we do for humans.”

 

SBIR/STTR programs seek to promote private-sector commercialization for innovations supported by federal research and development funding. They also aim to increase participation in innovation and entrepreneurship by women and socially/economically disadvantaged groups. Only American firms operating in the U.S. with 500 employees or less are eligible to participate in these competitive, awards-based programs.

 

According to Boyd, small businesses make especially attractive solution-providers for military customers when they are “willing to do the work,” specifically in a DOD ecosystem, they are organized, and they are innovative.

 

“Part of the SBIR program is small business innovative research, so the solutions have to be something different [to show that these firms] can think outside the box,” Boyd said.

 

AI Squared accelerates data integration and artificial intelligence (AI) into legacy applications, which systems and software engineers originally built to serve only one purpose. According to Lloyd Pierre, AI Squared’s chief of field engineering and sales, the SBIR/STTR programs are “very significant” to his firm, which wouldn’t exist without them. AI Squared has two received two phase II awards and has two phase III awards currently pending approval.

 

Lloyd explained that his company’s tech benefits the warfighter, not only in operational settings, but also in areas of business and logistics because there are so many factors that go into making the DOD more efficient and saving lives.

 

“Increasing the data-to-decision timeline by a factor of 20 times is huge,” Pierre said. “We’ve seen the DOD need 13 months to over two years to integrate data and AI into application. We’re able to do it in less than a week.”

 

To learn more about SBIR/STTR programs, go to: https://www.sbir.gov/sites/default/files/SBA_SBIR_Overview_March2020.pdf.

 

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