By Sareth Neak, President & Publisher, Maritime Security Outlook
It turns that that the Sea Air and Space Program was co-located with the Navy SBIR/STTR FST conference which showcased some of the most cutting edge and advanced technologies I’ve ever seen. They called it the “future of the Navy”. In my engagement with the exhibitors and personnel, I found that the program and technologies could be useful for our readers.
Here is a quick brief on the program:
SBIR - 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.
STTR - The Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program is a sister program to SBIR, established by Congress in 1992 with a similar statutory purpose as SBIR. A major difference in the two programs is that the STTR requires the small business to have a research partner consisting of a University, Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC), or a qualified non-profit research institution. In STTR, the small business must be the prime contractor and perform at least 40% of the work, with the research partner performing at least 30% of the work. The balance can be done by either party and/or a third party.
Although the Navy's SBIR and 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).
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 STTR program works in the same manner, but has only 2 announcements per year.
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. To that end, the Navy incorporates into its Phase II component, the emphasis on the small business' need to market its technology to both military and private sectors.
Three Phase Program - SBIR/STTR are competitive three phase programs:
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 information below is a general guide and is not meant to replace or supersede the instructions in the announcement.
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.
For ALL STTR Topics: The Phase I Base amount shall not exceed $125,000 and the Phase I Option amount shall not exceed $100,000. The Base Period of Performance shall not exceed seven (7) months and the Option Period of Performance shall not exceed six (6) months.
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. Please reference Phase II for information regarding the Navy's two-step competitive Phase II process and each SYSCOM's Phase II guidance.
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. One important strength of the SBIR program, is that 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.