Air Force small business partners garner prestigious SBA award

  • Published
  • By 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
  • 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The U.S. Small Business Administration has honored two companies that are growing with support from the Air Force Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Program.


Colorado-based MMA Design LLC and California-based Composite Support & Solutions Inc. each recently traveled to The White House to receive the SBA’s Tibbetts Award, which pays tribute to the best in SBIR achievements. In total, less than 40 companies from across the country – supporting a wide range of federal agencies – garnered the recognition.


“The Tibbetts Award program showcases companies that have done a tremendous job in leveraging SBIR funds for broader success,” said Air Force SBIR/STTR Program Director David Shahady. “These companies are great examples of how to use the SBIR program as a catalyst.”


With support from the SBIR program, MMA Design created and successfully demonstrated a system to remove satellites from orbit that has attracted millions of dollars in investment from outside the SBIR program. Known as dragNET, the system significantly decreases deorbit time without impacting a satellite’s mission performance.


By accelerating deorbit 10- to 40-times faster than satellites undergoing natural orbit decay, MMA Design’s system is able to help limit the size of future debris fields to make space safer for satellite communications and manned vehicles.


Composite Support & Solutions used the SBIR program to launch a new generation of corrosion-free towers for the communications industry. Its 118-foot prototype tower installed at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts is made entirely of composite materials and uses fastener-less joining technology not previously applied to composites or structural joints.


The Air Force saved money because the tower was assembled eight times faster than a traditional tower and projects little or no long-term maintenance cost because the Composite Support & Solutions’ tower is free from metal fasteners and other materials subject to corrosion.


“These types of successes should be the goal of government researchers who manage SBIR programs,” Shahady said. “In addition to gaining the benefit of technology in the field, SBIR allows companies to grow to become a viable future provider of critical technologies to the warfighter.”


Both MMA Design and Composite Support & Solutions are moving closer to widespread commercialization, Shahady added.


Commercialization typically spurs faster development of technology – allowing it to permeate society for the greater good – while potentially adding features and lowering future costs for the Air Force. Commercialization also helps fuel the economy by driving job growth.


Former Air Force SBIR/STTR leader David Sikora was also one of five people honored with an individual Tibbetts Award at the recent ceremony.


The Air Force SBIR/STTR Program invests more than $300 million annually in small business to bring leading-edge technology to the warfighter, improve existing technology and drive down costs. Three times per year, the Air Force SBIR/STTR Program releases a list of topics for companies to address via a Broad Agency Announcement.


Currently, the 17.1/17.A BAA is open until February 8, at