DHS’ Silicon Valley outpost issues first award to IoT security startup
A California company devoted to securing the Internet of Things received the first award from a Department of Homeland Security program using novel procurement authorities to help startups do business with the federal government.
Pulzze Systems, Inc., was awarded $200,000 under the agency’s Innovation Other Transaction Solicitation for its work to advance detection capability and security monitoring of networked systems. The award comes as the company responded to the first call under the solicitation, which is dedicated to IoT security.
Melissa Ho, managing director of the Silicon Valley office for DHS’s Science & Technology Directorate, told FedScoop the award process has been extraordinarily swift, with the Santa Clara-based Pulzze delivering its pitch on Feb. 1 and earning the award on Feb. 12.
“For having worked in government for the last 13 years, I’ve never seen something happen that quickly before,” Ho told FedScoop.
Companies awarded money will be part of a four-phase program, with each phase taking three to six months. Ho told FedScoop that DHS doesn’t have plans to implement the technology on any particular network and is mainly interested in seeing how the products operate in systems that connect with the nation’s critical infrastructure — like the power grid or the telephone network.
“We will be looking at each of those ideas and solutions independently and seeing where the right end users are to test the technology,” she said. “We are really just interested in the solution [companies] have to address one or all of the [program] areas, specifically: Detecting IoT components; authenticating the provenance of those components and devices on a network; as well as how they issue secure updates to devices on the network.”
Ho said somewhere between 25 and 30 startups have submitted applications, with future awards ranging between $50,000 and $200,000. DHS does not have a set amount of awards it will distribute, only saying it has $5 million to grant startups over the course of the program.
“It’s up to the company to tell us how much is necessary to adapt their technology to address the homeland security needs that we’ve expressed,” she said.
The award is one of a number of programs focused on working with early-stage companies that don’t have the means to go through traditional government contracting methods. The Science & Technology Directorate also has accelerators dedicated to wearable technology for first responders and a research program aimed to spurring innovation at small businesses.
“DHS S&T opened a Silicon Valley office to bridge the gap between the department and the creative thinkers in Silicon Valley,” said Reginald Brothers, DHS undersecretary for science and technology. “This first Innovation OTS award proves DHS can keep pace with the innovation community and is moving in the right direction to become a viable partner.”
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