Unlocking Opportunities: Navigating Avenues for Innovation in Government Markets

Jodi Essex, CIRAS APEX Accelerator Director

If you have an innovative product or service, several avenues exist to help grow and expand your innovation into the government and other markets.  Some avenues are more appropriate for fully developed technologies, while others are better suited for technologies under development.  Some offer funding assistance, while others help you bypass the red tape involved with traditional government contracting processes.  Let’s explore these:

  • Small Business Innovative Research – The SBIR program is great if you are working on a specific technology or idea and are looking for funding to advance it.  The program uses a phased approach to provide funding to bring a concept or idea from a prototype to commercialization.  Participating agencies focus on different technology areas and post solicitations periodically.


  • DEFENSEWERX – This program specializes in creating collaborative spaces, called Innovation Hubs, across the country (i.e. Sofwerx, Landwerx, Nautilus) that create an ecosystem focused on accelerating innovative solutions by sharing expertise and working together on solutions that benefit the warfighter and the nation.  Companies can join their ecosystem and upload their quad charts.  They also host collaboration events, such as Tech Tuesdays, to promote networking, knowledge sharing, problem-solving, and market exploration.


  • Defense Innovation Unit – This program identifies existing commercial technologies and finds a way to adopt those technologies into the military.  DIU posts solicitations on its website and requesting companies to propose solutions to current Department of Defense problems. DIU also issues prototype awards to assist with developing a technology that may solve a problem.


  • Challenge.govThis program supports federal agencies to mature and scale the use of prize competition and crowdsourcing campaigns in order to advance their missions.  It serves as the central hub for prize competitions across the federal government.  Agencies post challenges on this website; anybody can submit a potential solution and win.


For more information, contact your CIRAS Government Contracting Specialist or complete our Request for Counseling form.

*note: AI provided editorial support for this article.