Military Embedded Systems

USSOCOM innovation shop sees four-fold increase in proposals: official


May 06, 2024

Dan Taylor

Technology Editor

Military Embedded Systems

USSOCOM innovation shop sees four-fold increase in proposals: official

TAMPA, Florida. An "innovation platform" for U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) that seeks to solve problems for Special Operations Forces has seen a four-fold increase in proposals as interest in the program ramps up, an official says.

Leslie Babich, director of SOFWERX, told attendees of SOF Week that they had received an average of 82 proposals per topic in fiscal 2023 compared to the historical USSOCOM average of 19 annually, and more than double what SOFWERX received last year. SOFWERX is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that describes its purpose as "bringing the best of Government, Industry, Academia, and National Labs together to help solve challenging problems encountered by Special Operations Forces."

The goal is to help industry and other players push ideas from the conceptual phase to reality in an accelerated timeline. In the past, it took USSOCOM an average of 102 days to push a Phase I proposal to award, 105 days to get a Phase II proposal to award, and 40.5 months to move a Phase I proposal to delivery. In fiscal 2023, SOFWERX managed to cut those times to 30 days, 23 days, and 19 months respectively, Babich said.

"We're striving to again deliver capability to the warfighter in the prototype form for testing and evaluation as quickly as possible so that they can provide feedback," she said.

Since SOFWERX was launched in 2015, the organization has contracted $196.5 million through 967 purchase orders and business-to-business agreements, with a typical timeline of 60-90 days from kick-off to event execution.

Additionally, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program has leveraged the SOFWERX ecosystem to the tune of $67.2 million in funding executive, with 50 Phase I contracts (35 completed) and 37 Phase II contracts (17 completed). In fiscal 2023, nearly half of the 13 Phase II contracts transitioned to Phase III, Babich said.

In all, SOFWERX has facilitated 328 events. Two of them have even reached the combat evaluation stage, she said.

"The whole point behind our collaboration event is again to bring the end user face-to-face with those folks that can provide a solution so you're hearing directly from them what their pain points are, the problems that they're trying to solve," she said. "And on the flip side of the arrangement, stakeholders are able to learn from the industry participants, academia, and more -- what is the state of the art technology in this focus area? Is it being developed? ... It helps them refine and inform their requirements."