Defense agencies have launched their SBIR programs, beginning November 2018

The Department of Defense’s SBIR Program’s mission is to elicit innovative solutions from the small business community that address defense technology gaps confronting the Department of Defense and to include technologies that will also have high commercialization potential in the private sector.

Currently, the SBIR program consists of eleven participating federal agencies. The Department of Defense’s SBIR program targets research and development efforts relevant to the Department of Defense, whether it be in regards to systems, technology, services, or topics pertinent to the Department.

Program Objectives

The DoD SBIR program objectives are as follows:

  • Stimulate technological innovation
  • Increase private sector commercialization of federal research and development (R&D)
  • Increase small business participation in federally funded R&D
  • Foster participation by minority and disadvantaged firms in technological innovation

How does this apply to you? Why does this matter?

The DoD gives small businesses the opportunity to engage in government-funded innovative work. With this financial support, these businesses can compete at the large business level, which otherwise may have proved much more difficult. Furthermore, not only will awardees be able to contribute to the success and development of the Department of Defense, awardees will benefit from engaging in the innovation process and further developing a competitive edge in the marketplace.

March 18, 2016 – AMP SoCal Innovation Forum: SBIR/STTR Phase I Proposal Workshop
In March 2016, AMP SoCal delivered a workshop on preparing an SBIR/STTR Phase I proposal as part of its Innovation Forum Series. The presentations were recorded and are available for reference to assist any small business preparing to submit an SBIR proposal.

Highlights: SBIR/STTR Phase I Proposal Workshop

SBIR/STTR Phase I Proposal Workshop


Navy Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program Details

DoD Broad Agency Announcement (BAA)

Program Overview

  • The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program was established by Congress in 1982 with a statutory purpose to strengthen the role of innovative small business concerns (SBCs) in Federally-funded research or research and development (R/R&D). Specific program purposes are to:
    • (1) Stimulate technological innovation;
    • (2) use small business to meet Federal R/R&D needs;
    • (3) foster and encourage participation by socially and economically disadvantaged SBCs in working in technological innovation; and
    • (4) increase private sector commercialization of innovations derived from Federal R/R&D, thereby increasing competition, productivity and economic growth.
  • Although the Navy’s SBIR and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are a component of the overall Department of Defense (DoD) SBIR/STTR program, the Navy’s program is targeted at addressing the needs and areas of interest to the Navy and its System Commands (SYSCOMS).
    • Each participating SYSCOM has its own SBIR budget as well as differing guidelines pertaining to their phase II program. Technical topics for the Navy’s SBIR solicitations are divided into groups representing the needs of each participating SYSCOM. A list of the SYSCOMs that participate in the Navy SBIR program can be found here.
  • On a schedule coordinated by DoD, the Navy issues SBIR Broad Agency Announcements (BAAs) or “announcements” (formerly called solicitations), usually 3 per year, that contain a series of “Technical Topics” that describe the areas of interest and needs of the Navy and its SYSCOMS. Small businesses are invited to submit proposals targeted at one or more of the technical topics listed in the announcement.
  • The Navy’s SBIR/STTR Programs are primarily mission oriented, providing companies the opportunity to become part of the national technology base that can feed both the military and private sectors of the nation.
  • Click here for eligibility requirements
  • The Navy SBIR program requires electronic submission of many documents throughout the Phase I and Phase II process. Visit the Navy SBIR website for submission requirements.

SBIR is a competitive three phase program:

  • Phase I – Is a feasibility study to determine the scientific or technical merit of an idea or technology that may provide a solution to the Department of the Navy’s need or requirement.
    • The Phase I Base amount shall not exceed $125,000 and the Phase I Option amount shall not exceed $100,000. The Base and Option Periods of Performance shall not exceed six (6) months each.
  • Phase II – If the Phase I effort is successful, the firm may compete for Phase II funding, which is a substantial R&D effort. Phase II is typically a demonstration phase in which prototypes are built and tested. Phase II awards will be made to firms on the basis of results of their Phase I effort and the scientific merit, technical merit, and commercialization potential of the Phase II proposal. Phase II awards are typically $500,000 to $1,500,000 in size and the period of performance is generally 24 months. The Navy follows a two-step competitive process for Phase II.
  • Phase III – This is the goal of most SBIR projects. Although no government SBIR funds are involved, Phase III funding can come from the government and/or private sector. The target is to transition a company’s SBIR effort into products, tools or services that benefit the Navy acquisition community. Once a company has received a Phase I award, follow-on Phase III awards can be awarded in a non-competitive process since the competitive process took place under Phase I.
  • Commercialization Readiness Program (CRP) – The Navy SBIR Commercialization Readiness Program [formerly the Commercialization Pilot Program (CPP)] is a dynamic, results-oriented response to the Congressional challenge to the Department of Defense in 2006 to deliver more advanced technologies – faster – to our warfighters. Administrative funding is provided by the statutory 1% allocation of SBIR funds to the SYSCOMs for administering the Phase II.5 and to provide non-financial resources for the firms (e.g. the Navy’s SBIR/STTR Transition Program, etc.)

For additional program information, please visit the Navy SBIR website here

Sources: Navy SBIR

Air Force Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program Details


Program Overview – The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program funds research and development (R&D) by small businesses of 500 or fewer employees. Eleven federal agencies participate in the program, including the Department of Defense.

Upcoming Department of Defense SBIR Announcement

  • SBIR 19.1
    • SBIR Pre-Release Begins on November 28, 2018
    • Announcement Opens on January 08, 2019
    • Announcement Closes on February 06, 2019 at 8:00 p.m. ET
  • Eligibility Requirements
    • Applicant is for-profit business based in the United States
    • 500 or fewer employees
    • Principal investigator’s primary employment (more than 50 percent) must be with small business
    • Additional requirements apply. See Eligibility Guide here
  • Award Notification Timeframe
    • The Air Force strives to notify proposers of their selection/non-selection within 90 days of the solicitation closing date. The estimated timeframe for when awards will be made is 180 days after the solicitation closing date.
  • Proposal Evaluation Criteria
    • Air Force experts evaluate the proposals on the following criteria, which are listed in order of importance:
      • Soundness, technical merit and innovation of the proposed approach and its incremental progress toward topic or subtopic solution; Qualifications of the principal/key investigators, supporting staff, and consultants.
      • Qualifications include not only the ability to perform the research and development, but also the ability to commercialize the results; and
      • The potential for commercialization (Government or private sector) application and the benefits expected to accrue from this commercialization.

SBIR Phases

  • Phase 0
    • Small businesses often need one or more forms of assistance to help prepare their first Phase I SBIR proposal. Assistance at this pre-proposal stage is most commonly referred to as Phase 0.
    • Phase 0 assistance can take several forms and is offered by various organizations at the state level. Services vary widely from state to state but most commonly include: grant writing services; purchasing market research reports; assistance with identifying potential partners; and budget preparation and proposal review.
    • Some Phase 0 programs provide support in the form of pre-approved funds to reimburse expenses incurred by the small business in preparation of a federal Phase I SBIR proposal.
      • Eligible expenses often include hiring grant writers, subject matter experts (SMEs), other consultants, or purchasing market research reports. You must apply for these funds before incurring the expenses.
    • Phase I
      • Phase I is a feasibility study
      • $150K and 9 months
      • In order to prepare and submit proposals, applicants must be registered in the DoD electronic submission website at
      • Applicants must complete training volume 6, which contains the training to combat fraud, waste and abuse for all phase I and phase II proposals prior to submission.
      • Each proposal should contain completed:
        • Proposal Cover Sheet
        • Technical Volume
        • Cost Volume
        • Company Commercialization Report
        • Certificate of Training Completion
      • After the Air Force Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) cycle closes, proposals go through an evaluation process that takes approximately 90 days before selections are made.
      • Awardees must complete the funding agreement certificate at the time of award.
      • Awardees must compete the life cycle submission certification prior to receipt of final payment.
    • Phase II
      • Phase II is the full R&D effort leading to prototype
      • Up to $750K initially and the phase is 2 years
      • All Phase I awardees will be sent a notification with the Phase II proposal due date and instructions for submitting the Phase II proposal through the DoD electronic submission website at
      • Phase II applicants will need to submit the Environmental Safety and Occupational Health (ESOH) questionnaire
      • Awardees must complete the funding agreement certificate at the time of award.
      • Awardees must compete the life cycle submission certification prior to receipt of more than half the total contract award amount AND before receipt of final payment
    • Phase II+ (Commercialization Readiness Program (CRP)
      • The Air Force SBIR/STTR (The Small Business Technology Transfer) program Commercialization Readiness Program (CRP) provides a strategically driven process that directly links Air Force centers to Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Technical Points-of-Contact (TPOCs) to identify and evaluate Air Force needs and innovative solutions.
      • The primary objective of the CRP is to accelerate the transition of SBIR/STTR-developed technologies into real-world military and commercial applications.
      • To achieve the program’s goals, the CRP team is involved throughout the process, from topic generation to technology transition. The continued success of the program can be attributed to its ability to align and connect all transition stakeholders and to leverage the Phase III funds required to mature SBIR/STTR projects.
      • The 3 elements that must be present in order to initiate the transition process and conduct business with the CRP:
        • Identified and interested customer (Air Force program office, major contractor, etc.), i.e., the customer has been contacted, is aware of the technology and is interested in pursuing it;
        • Defined need (driven by customer);
        • SBIR/STTR technology (that meets the need and shows high potential for providing viable results).
      • In order for SBIR awardees to participate in the program they should engage with TPOCs and/or interested customers (Air Force program office, major contractor, etc.), who identify technology needs for your potential solution. These individuals will contact the CRP manager or associated CRP Technology Analyst (TA) to initiate transition discussions.
    • Phase III
      • Phase III refers to work that derives from, extends, or completes an effort made under prior SBIR/STTR funding agreements, but is funded by sources other than the SBIR/STTR program. This phase’s purpose is to transition a company’s SBIR/STTR effort into hardware or software products, processes or services that benefit the Air Force acquisition community or the private sect.
      • A key SBIR/STTR component is that, once a company has received a Phase I or II award, sole-source Phase III awards may be made to the company, since competition requirements were satisfied under Phase I and II.

For more details on SBIR phases and additional program information click here or visit the AirForce SBIR website here

Sources: AirForce SBIR STTR; The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA); Department of Defense