The General Services Administration (GSA) put out a request for information (RFI) on Feb. 22 to conduct market research on the establishment of a new Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) contract vehicle.

GSA’s Federal Systems Integration and Management Center’s (FEDSIM) Group Manager Alexandra Rouse shared last month that her office is making strides on the SBIR contract, and organizations can expect to see a draft in late March.

FEDSIM’s IDIQ Labs, embedded in the agency’s Innovation Sector, said in the RFI that it will name the contract RIO – for Research, Innovation, and Outcomes.

RIO is a program that would offer agencies technology funded from SBIR phase three grants.

Currently, the SBIR program has three phases: the first phase focuses on developing a proof-of-concept; phase two continues the research-and-development efforts to prove that the technology is commercially viable; phase three is where technologies go to commercialization.

However, while the SBIR program is often hailed as a success, too many technologies fail to advance beyond phase two of the program.

Phases one and two are funded by the SBIR program, but the third phase is a challenge because it requires an agency to fund further development work to get that technology or solution into production.

This is what agencies often call “the valley of death” – that seemingly uncrossable chasm between early prototyping of a new technology and getting it into the hands of government users.

GSA’s RIO Program aims to bridge that valley.

IDIQ Labs’ RFI requests all SBIR award documentation to further inform the GSA about the variances and nuances of different awarding agencies and offices. The documentation is due on March 10.

Rouse also said last month that FEDSIM was building the foundation for the RIO Program office, which the RFI notes currently has seven team members – including a manager, a contract specialist, and a procurement analyst.

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Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.