Cohort Program


We’re on the hunt for the right small businesses to help solve strategic problems for the U.S. Army — and have the chance to participate in our unique Cohort Program in the process.

Application Opens 09.18.2020


New thinking. More collaboration. Better results. That’s the recipe for Army modernization, and we’re helping lead the way through our Cohort Program — the first of its kind for the U.S. military and unlike any other program in the market.

But we didn’t stop there. Working with the Army ASA(ALT) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) team, we just launched another new program that taps into small business funding and offers a way to speed new technology adoption and solve U.S. Army problems faster. This program — Army Special Program Awards for Required Technology Needs (SPARTN) — is kicking off with an important and challenging problem from our Army mission partners. And, with them, a new opportunity to join an AAL Cohort.

You can read more about the upcoming problem below. For each SPARTN topic, we may select as many as 15 companies to receive up to $200k and have the option to participate in a cohort focused on that problem.

Interested? You have until 09.17.2020 to ask questions about the problem or the cohort. Once the application window opens on 09.18.2020, you’ll have until 12pm ET 10.08.2020 to apply.

The Fire Faster Cohort

Reloading Self-Propelled Howitzer Systems (SPHS) is a highly manual process. Components are stored in the vehicle armor but must be stocked, moved, and loaded by hand. We need a way to do this better — to reduce physical strain on Soldiers and to keep up with next-generation operations.

So we’re exploring alternative cannon reloading approaches that can support high, sustained rates of fire. We want to identify technologies that enable that as part of the SPHS as well as those that optimize ammunition handling and loading (such as material handling, storage, inventory management, etc.).

Companies in this cohort will have both virtual and in-person access to Army stakeholders and end users. You’ll have the chance to join remote roundtable discussions with the people in the Army who buy the weapons system and those working to modernize it.  In-person weeks will include trips to Army posts where you’ll witness a SPHS live fire and talk directly with the Soldiers who use the system as part of their jobs.


It’s a lot to take in, so we don’t expect you to understand it all from a web page or a slick sheet. That’s why we held a series of webinars about the SPARTN program and the associated cohort to dive in on the details.

If you missed these webinars or need to revisit the information we covered, no worries. You can find recordings of the SPARTN Overview webinar and the Fire Faster opportunity webinar — as well as FAQs and other materials — on the main SPARTN page.

About the Cohort Program

Cohorts are playing an increasing role in startup communities around the world. They offer a way for companies to improve their outcomes by tapping the learning and connections of an accelerator partner. In exchange, cohort members are usually asked to share a piece of their profit.

We decided to put a twist on that concept for the Army. Our Cohort Program is similar to an accelerator, similar to a hackathon, similar to traditional acquisitions, but none of those things by itself. It brings together a group of companies that don’t usually work with the DoD and focuses them on solving a specific Army problem. They work side by side with Soldiers and with a community of Army experts and stakeholders on a shared learning journey. While joining a cohort isn’t required to participate in the SPARTN program, it can provide a deeper level of insight to help refine your solution.

How It Works

Every cohort through AAL is different, because every problem is unique. We work with Army clients to gain deeper insight into their problems and co-develop a tailored program with their goals in mind. But each cohort shares two things — a focus on working with the best solvers and a commitment to solutions that can transition and scale.

Fewer Limitations

Our cohorts aren’t focused on making one widget or bound by rigid requirements. We work on dissecting and solving complex operational problems for the Army.

More Collaboration

No one thrives in a vacuum. So we bring Army clients and cohort members together throughout the program to share insight and solve the problem as a team.

Less Risk

By including Army program managers throughout the design process, we deliver realistic solutions while reducing risks to cost, schedule, and performance.

Better Value

Rather than spending millions on one solution that may not work, we validate new ideas that can solve multiple problems and scale into other dual-use solutions.



To win in a Multi-Domain Operations environment, the Army knew it needed field artillery to fire farther and faster than ever before. The Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) program was part of the answer. But, as the Long Range Precision Fires Cross Functional Team (LRPF CFT) dug into the CONOPS, they realized that solving one problem led to another: Once you build a bigger, better cannon, how do you get the right ammunition to the right place at the right time?

The commercial industry has driven incredible advancements with automation and robotics, so LRPF partnered with the AAL team to tap some of that thinking through the FAAR Cohort. The cohort worked alongside stakeholders to explore how best-in-class commercial tech could help address this challenge — and how the Army could quickly identify and work to incorporate those technologies.

In just 12 weeks, the six companies in the FAAR Cohort co-designed and presented 14 new solution concepts that could enhance the ERCA resupply process. Watch it unfold in our docuseries that goes behind the scenes the first cohort.

Learn More

The Cohort Program is just one of the ways that we’re supporting Army modernization by challenging why and delivering what if

Whether you’re a small business interested in joining our next cohort or an Army leader interested in funding a new cohort, we’re ready to talk. Together, we can unite the best commercial thinking and technology to transform the Army.