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What is SBIR?

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, established in 1982 by the U.S., is a highly competitive initiative designed to stimulate technological innovation among small businesses with strong commercial potential. It provides essential funding for small enterprises to engage in research and development (R&D), playing a significant role in fostering innovation and addressing technological challenges. The primary objective of the SBIR program is to support small business capabilities and facilitate the transition from innovation to the commercialization of products and technologies, aiding the federal government in leading the development of solutions for various challenges.

The SBIR program receives funding from multiple federal agencies, each with its unique interests, priorities, and developmental needs. Agencies such as the Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Energy (DOE), and National Institutes of Health (NIH) contribute to this initiative. To date, the Navy has allocated over $11 billion to commercialize SBIR/STTR technologies. The DoN's investment in technology priorities is driven by SYSCOM-specific mission needs and requirements, which are issued as topics. The DoD releases topics approximately three times a year through Broad Agency Announcements (BAAs). These topics serve as the starting point for proposal submissions and can be found at Complete requirements, proposal submission guidelines, solicitation schedules, and Topic Q&A are accessible on the DoD's Defense SBIR/STTR Innovation Portal (DSIP).

The SBIR program is structured into three phases, each designed to foster and commercialize small businesses. The initial phase is the proof of concept, providing funding for small businesses to explore and demonstrate technical merit, with awards from $50k to $250k. The objective is for small businesses to prove their innovation is promising enough to warrant further investment. The second phase concentrates on development demonstration, with varying award amounts. Awards range from 500k to 1.5M. The third and final phase of SBIR is the commercialization of the innovation. There is no funding in phase III but rather businesses are expected to pursue external funding and involve partnerships with other federal agencies or private companies.

Several Navy resources aid small businesses in their SBIR journey and product commercialization. These include the Technical and Business Assistance (TABA) program, the Small Business Transition Program (STP), and the DoN SBIR Experimental Cell (DoN SEC). The TABA program offers funds for services such as product sales assistance, market research, validation, and manufacturing plan development. TABA must be requested in the initial Phase I and II proposals. Notably, TABA funding in a Phase II contract disqualifies the recipient from participating in the DoN SBIR/STTR Transition Program (STP) and any other direct DoN assistance. The STP, an 11-month Navy-specific program, provides services that facilitate technology transition, focusing on education, networking, market research, a virtual transition marketplace (VTM), and conference exhibitions. The DoN SEC is instrumental in the SBIR process, linking SBIR innovators with the DoN experimentation community to deliver innovative solutions for warfighters. The SEC provides extensive support, including experimentation facilitation, mentoring, and training, and collaborates on events like JIFX, Coastal Trident ANTX, and Trident Warrior to highlight technology

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