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DHS Awards Millions in Grants to Blockchain, Cybersecurity Projects

Last Updated September 23, 2020 11:58 AM
Lester Coleman
Last Updated September 23, 2020 11:58 AM

The U. S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) awarded Austin, Texas-based $199,000 to Factom Inc. to advance digital identity security for Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

The award was one of several DHS S&T awards to support the development of security solutions that involve blockchain technology. DHS S&T also announced competitive research awards for small businesses through its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program

DHS S&T awarded $199,000 to Factom Inc. for its project titled, “Blockchain Software to Prove Integrity of Captured Data From Border Devices” through its Securing the Internet of Things (IoT), Solicitation Number: HSHQDC-16-R-00035. Factom proposed the project in response to the first call for proposals under the Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP) Other Transaction Solicitation (OTS).

The SVIP OTS program began in December 2015 to encourage non-traditional performers to develop solutions to some of the toughest threats facing DHS and its homeland security mission.
Factom Inc. proposes to authenticate devices to prevent spoofing and to ensure data integrity by leveraging the blockchain, one of the most secure networks.

Project Addresses Hacking

Factom will develop an identity log to capture a device’s identity, who made it, known security issues, available updates, and granted authorities while adding the dimension of time for additional security. The project’s objective is to limit hackers’ abilities to corrupt a device’s past records and make it harder to spoof.

Dr. Reginald Brothers, the DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology (S&T), said it is critical to safeguard IoT devices embedded within people’s daily lives, devices such as vehicles people drive to devices they wear. “S&T is excited to engage our nation’s innovators, helping us to develop novel solutions for the homeland security enterprise,” he said.

IoT is a convergence of information technology networks, mobile devices, connected sensors, and devices. The DHS OTS searches for novel ideas and technologies to improve security and situational awareness to protect these domains. The domains include the 16 critical infrastructure sectors DHS monitors.

Melissa Ho, managing director of S&T’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program, said the startup community has already begun to develop innovative commercial solutions for IoT, so it made sense to take advantage of this innovation.

She noted that DHS has engaged this community to access products that will impact DHS’s enterprise. The department is encouraged by the diversity of solutions that its solicitation can bring DHS.

S&T Also Awards $3.1 Million

DHS S&T also announced a total of $3.1 million in competitive research awards for 29 small businesses in 12 states and Washington, D.C. through its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. Each business received approximately $100,000 in preliminary funding. S&T awarded 31 contracts were awarded in 10 topic areas:

• Applicability of Blockchain Technology to Identity Management and Privacy Protection

o Digital Bazaar, Inc., Blacksburg, Va.
o Respect Network Corporation, Seattle, Wash.
o Narf Industries LLC, Washington, D.C.
o Celerity Government Solutions, LLC, McLean, Va.
• Blockchain Applications for Homeland Security Analytics
o Block Cypher, Redwood City, Calif.
o RAM laboratories, Inc., San Diego, Calif.
• Security Systems Video and Audio Interoperability
o Balfour Technologies LLC, Bethpage, N.Y.
o McQ Inc., Fredericksburg, Va.
o Systems Engineering, Inc., Dulles, Va.

• Malware Prediction for Preemptive Cyber Defense

o BlueRISC, Inc., Amherst, Mass.
o GrammaTech, Inc., Ithaca, N.Y.
o Red Balloon Security, New York, N.Y.
o ZeroPoint Dynamics, LLC, Cary, N.C.
• Autonomous Indoor Navigation and Tracking of First Responders
o Robotic Research, LLC, Gaithersburg, Md.
o Oceanit Laboratories, Inc., Honolulu, Hawaii
o Integrated Solutions for Systems, Huntsville, Ala.
o Human Systems Integration, Inc., Walpole, Mass.
• Internet of Things (IoT) Low-Cost Flood Inundation Sensor
o Physical Optics Corporation, Torrance, Calif.
o Progeny Systems Corporation, Manassas, Va.
o Evigia Systems, Inc., Ann Arbor, Mich.
• Low-Cost, Real-Time Data Analytics for Underserved EMS Agencies
o ElanTech, Columbia, Md.
o Azavea Inc., Philadelphia, Pa.

• Real-Time Assessment of Resilience and Preparedness

o InferLink Corporation, El Segundo, Calif.
o Datanova Scientific LLC, Baltimore, Md.
• Using Social Media to Support Timely and Targeted Emergency Response Actions
o Physical Optics Corporation, Torrance, Calif.
o ElanTech, Columbia, Md.
o Decisive Analytics, Arlington, Va.
o UtopiaCompression Corporation, Los Angeles, Calif.

• Remote Identity Proofing Alternatives to Knowledge-Based Authentication and Verification

o Card Smart Technologies, Basking Ridge, N.J.
o PreID Inc., Atherton, Calif.
o Pomian & Corella, Carmichael, Calif.

S&T program managers developed the topics for the solicitation to meet the research and development requirements of DHS and its homeland security enterprise.

Further Funding Available

Small businesses can be eligible for further funding from their initial project results, in addition to the technical and scientific merit and perceived commercialization potential.

The DHS S&T SBIR Program began in 2004 as a competitive contract awards program to expand the participation of U.S. small businesses in federal research and development initiatives and to build private sector commercialization of SBIR-funded solutions.


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