The Air Force Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are designed to stimulate technology research by small businesses while providing the government with cost-effective technical and scientific solutions to challenging problems. These programs also encourage small businesses to market SBIR/STTR technology in the private sector. Both programs are governed by the Small Business Administration.
The SBIR program's goals are to:
1. Stimulate technological innovation.
2. Meet Federal research and development needs.
3. Foster and encourage participation in innovation and entrepreneurship by socially and economically disadvantaged persons.
4. Increase private-sector commercialization of innovations derived from federal research and development (R&D) funding.
The STTR program's goals are to:
1. Stimulate technological innovation.
2. Foster technology transfer through cooperative R&D between small businesses and research institutions.
Eleven federal agencies set aside a portion of their R&D budgets for SBIR contracts and six set aside a portion for STTR contracts. The Department of Defense (DoD), including the Air Force, accounts for more than half of the total federal SBIR/STTR budget. Each year, these agencies identify various R&D topics for pursuit by small businesses. These topics are then released in a solicitation and contracts are awarded on competitive merit, as determined by the agency's technical and scientific experts.
3. Increase private sector commercialization of innovations derived from federal R&D.
The Air Force SBIR/STTR solicitations are released as part of the DoD SBIR/STTR solicitation process. The Air Force participates in the DoD's first SBIR solicitation (SBIR.1) and its first STTR solicitation (STTR.A). The complete schedule of DoD solicitations can be found at www.dodsbir.net/solicitation. Since the Air Force often publishes its topics in advance of the DoD's pre-release period, small businesses are encouraged to visit our website at www.afsbirsttr.com prior to the DoD solicitation schedule.
The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has been assigned the execution authority for the Air Force SBIR and STTR programs by the Secretary of the Air Force.
SMALL BUSINESS INNOVATION RESEARCH
The 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 businesses to meet federal R/R&D needs, 3) foster and encourage participation by socially and economically disadvantaged SBCs in technological innovation, and 4) increase private sector commercialization of innovations derived from federal R/R&D, thereby increasing competition, productivity and economic growth.
The SBIR program is a three-phase process that funds early-stage R&D conducted by small businesses. In Phase I, technology feasibility is determined with contracts valued up to $150,000 over a period of nine months. In Phase II, the necessary R&D is accomplished to produce a well-defined product, process or prototype. For the Air Force these awards typically span two years, with an initial value of $750,000. Under Phase III, the small business is expected to obtain funding from the private sector and/or non-SBIR government sources to develop the prototype into a viable product or non-R&D service for sale in military and/or private-sector markets.
SMALL BUSINESS TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER
The Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program is a sister program to SBIR and was established by Congress in 1992 with a similar statutory purpose. It provides an incentive for small businesses, academic institutions and non-profit research institutions, including federally-funded research and development centers (FFRDCs), to work together to move emerging technical ideas from the laboratory to the marketplace.
A major difference between the two programs is that the STTR program requires the small business to have a research partner consisting of a university, FFRDC or a qualified non-profit research institution. In the STTR program, the small business must be the prime contractor and perform at least 40 percent of the work, with the research partner performing at least 30 percent of the work. The balance can be done by either party and/or a third party. Its phases are similar to the SBIR phases in terms of contract amounts and lengths of performance.
COMMERCIALIZATION READINESS PROGRAM
The Air Force SBIR/STTR Commercialization Readiness Program (CRP) provides a strategically driven process that directly links Air Force centers (including product, sustainment and test centers) to AFRL technical points of contact in order to identify and evaluate innovative solutions for Air Force needs.
Since its inception in 2006, the program has been improving technology transition outcomes. 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 SBIR/STTR 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.
See our Air Force SBIR/STTR Points of Contact on the website.
(Current as of February 2014)