REI Insights

Building a Modern Application that Fuels Small Business Innovation
June 24, 2021
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The Challenge

NASA manages one of the largest research award programs in the government focused on fueling innovation from the Small Business Community. Through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, NASA provides hundreds of millions of dollars to small businesses to fund innovations that support NASA’s mission. Administering these programs was manual and cumbersome due to many applicants, complex reviews, diffused organizational roles, and no single technology platform. NASA experienced slow response times, rising costs, discouraged applicants, and delays in mission innovation.

REI Solution

REI Systems partnered with NASA to modernize the agency’s SBIR operations by building a solution called the Electronic Handbook (EHB). The EHB automated and modernized the funding processes for both small businesses and NASA’s program administrators. The solution provided small businesses a simple way to engage with NASA and submit their proposed innovations. REI implemented machine learning, A.I., micro-services, a human-centered design approach. Ultimately, this sought-after solution was leveraged by multiple agencies to optimize their own business processes, from solicitation development, selection and award, through contract administration, reporting and close-out.

Impact

The EHB automated, integrated, and optimized business processes for NASA’s SBIR/STTR programs that helped better fuel small business innovation. Additional benefits include:

  • Granted record amount of Phase I small business awards
  • Increased Phase III awards by 20% from FY18-FY19
  • Improved efficiency for 6,000 users across multiple government agencies
  • Automated, integrated, and optimized business processes for NASA’s SBIR and STTR programs
  • Reduced maintenance, mailing, printing, support upgrade, publication, and storage costs
  • Increased automation, resulting in improved program accuracy and security
  • Paved the way for an end-to-end paperless system
  • Increased participation by underrepresented groups
  • Enhanced communication and collaboration between small businesses and NASA
  • 50%+ reduction in helpdesk ticket volume