SBIR Insider Update - March 8, 2019 - Life Back to Normal ... Really??
Dear SBIR Insider,
With the shutdown behind us we are back to normal.... or perhaps the new normal. There are still many challenges ahead as well as some interesting new opportunities. Your going to see the word "Pitch" applied in some new and stunning ways in SBIR. Let's get to it.
New Naval Accelerator Pilot BAA Opportunity (ADAPT)
The Navy has developed a new approach to engage non-traditional technology solution providers with Naval needs.
This new Naval Accelerator Pilot opportunity, known as Accelerated Delivery and Acquisition of Prototype Technologies (ADAPT) will be in the form of an out-of-cycle BAA that will contain 6 direct-to-Phase II (DP2) topics aligned to address naval challenges in the ship building community. The ADAPT BAA is scheduled to be pre-released soon. Keep monitoring the Navy's SBIR website at https://navysbir.com
In response to this pilot, the Navy will be hosting an ADAPT workshop which will take place in Lowell, MA on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 with additional one-on-one meetings available on the 11th.
The Workshop will include an introduction to the ADAPT pilot, technology briefs on the topics, discussion on the proposal process and contracting, and an opportunity for one-on-one discussions with subject matter experts.
Registration is required and will open Friday, March 15, 2019. More information available at: www.onlineregistrationcenter.com/ADAPT
New NSF SBIR/STTR Requirement: Project Pitch
The NSF has always had their own unusual flavor of SBIR/STTR and now they've done it again.
In order to submit a phase I proposal to the NSF SBIR/STTR program, you must first submit a Project Pitch consisting of a three-page submission in order for the NSF to ascertain if your pitch meets the NSF program’s objectives to support innovative technologies that show promise of commercial and/or societal impact and involve a level of technical risk.
NSF states that you will be notified within 3 weeks if you can have permission to submit a full proposal. Proposals will not be accepted without an invitation stemming from a Project Pitch. NSF adds: "We only accept proposals from companies that have been officially invited to submit (via the Project Pitch process)."
In defense of this the NSF states: "Rather than spending days to prepare a full proposal and waiting up to one month to obtain the required registrations, startups or entrepreneurs who submit a three-page Project Pitch will know within three weeks if they meet the program’s minimum requirements. They will also get additional guidance and feedback from NSF staff."
Could this become subject to what happened to DoD when you could only submit a phase II if invited? Congress was displeased with that and eliminated DoD's "Invitational" Phase II process.
Actually the DoD justified it in a manner similar to NSF but with different words. You had to be invited to submit a DoD phase II, which would be based on their interest and outcome of your phase I. DoD calculated it would save both the small business and the agency from the costs of preparing and reviewing phase II proposals based on phase I projects that were unsuccessful or no longer of interest to the agency.
Congress said a resounding "NO" to that DoD thought process and changed the law which now requires DoD to accept all phase II proposals from phase I winners. The result has been a multitude of unwanted DoD phase II proposals . One could make a case that this was not a good decision.
HOWEVER, there is a vast difference between evaluating someone's right to submit based on a completed phase I project vs NSF's 3 page "Pitch" just to obtain permission to submit a phase I proposal.
Add to that the arcane NSF policy of severely restricting the number of submissions from any single company. Years ago NSF reduced it to four, then two, then one, and now?? A company can submit up to two unique Project Pitches but can only submit the second one IF the first one did not lead to a full proposal invite.
I'm not insinuating that the folks at NSF are bad because it's been an important program and there are lot of good and dedicated people there. However, I am inferring that the limitations on multiple proposals could be "well meaning but misguided".
I may become persona non grata at NSF (I've been there before) but I think their SBIR limitation policies could be detrimental to the overall SBIR programs as well as their own. Visit https://seedfund.nsf.gov/
Amazing Air Force Pitch Day: New Contracts, New Partners
In a bold and sweeping move, the Air Force held their Inaugural Air Force Pitch Day, March 6-7, 2019 in New York. The goal of the program is a fast track (one day) method to do one page contracts via a government credit card!
Air Force reports: "The Air Force is partnering with small businesses to help further national security in air, space and cyberspace."
"Air Force Pitch Day is modeled after commercial investment pitch competitions to deliver a faster, smarter approach to compete for ideas in the accelerating technology ecosystem. The process is a major departure from the lengthy contractual processes typically expected of the military. It focuses on rapidly awarding Phase I Small Business Innovation Research, or SBIR, contracts to companies based on a simpler streamlined evaluation of white papers and in-person presentations."
The precursor to pitch day happened the previous week as the Air Force tried to see how quickly they could execute some SBIR awards. They made 122 awards (about $6 million) and 69 phase II awards (about $60 million) during that week.
At the event 51 (out of 59) small businesses gave their pitch and received an initial award of up to $158,000 with initial payment within minutes of their presentations. The average time from the small business pitch to signed contract and payment was 15 minutes!
You're going to love this from Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force, AT&L; "For those who think using a credit card is a gimmick, they need to come down and work with companies for whom money matters. And for the size companies we saw this week, that paycheck today means they are now focused on our mission and not making payroll.”
More than 500 attendees from government, industry, academia, venture capital and investment communities also participated in Air Force Pitch Day March 7, which served as an open event that delivered a broader platform for invited companies to pitch to a larger community than just the Air Force.
We'll do some follow up reporting for you on this, but expect this grow and perhaps be emulated! Visit https://www.afsbirsttr.af.mil/
SBIR/STTR Solicitation News
1. Department of Transportation has issued an amendment canceling topic no. 190-PH1: Inline-Inspection (ILI) Tool for Detecting Coating Defects/Disbondment of Coating. Solicitation closes April 22, 2019, at 5:00 p.m. (ET) (see https://www.volpe.dot.gov/work-with-us/small-business-innovation-research/19-solicitation-document)
2. NIST As promised, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) had a few surprises (nice ones) and opened their FY-2019 SBIR on February 19, closing April 19, 2019. The great news is that NIST is doing topics in broad based manner that gives you a lot of room and more opportunities to offer solutions and advances in NIST's areas of interest. By the way, in NIST vernacular (actually a grants vernacular) they're offering a NOFO, which is "Notice of Funding Opportunity". You have to love government acronyms.
Grants vs Contracts: NIST has also morphed from a Contracts based program to a Grants based. Well, kind of. NIST is actually using a "Cooperative Agreement" model which, without offending the barristers in our audience, is very similar to a traditional grant but gives the granting agency more of a role (or the option to play more of a role) than just a Grant. That should not be problematic for our small businesses, unless NIST turns into an anti-small business mode that wants to run your project, which has not been NIST's model. I'll be anxious to hear from you how it worked out. Visit https://www.nist.gov/tpo/small-business-innovation-research-program
3. Other agencies open include Education, NASA, HHS/NIH, but we have no news items for those at this time. You'll find the schedule at sbir.gov and we'll have it at sbir.tv and for you. DoD folk (they have security concerns that block some sites) you can also use zynsys.com/tv Things seem to be running smoothly.
Champions of Small Business Technology Commercialization Nominations
The Small Business Technology Council (SBTC) will present its 5th annual "Champions of Small Business Technology Commercialization" award winners at their annual meeting June 11, from 1pm-4pm in Washington, DC.
These awards honor some of best Program Managers, Contracting Officials, PEOs, and government officials for their work in helping SBIR/STTR companies commercialize their technologies. Individuals in government are nominated by the company that they worked with, and then evaluated by an independent panel who selects those that have gone above and beyond their responsibilities to help a small business get the funding they need to bring their technology closer to the marketplace.
Nominations are currently open, so if you have someone you would like to nominate for this award, please visit the nomination website at https://sbtc.org/2019-sbtc-champions-of-small-business-technology-commercialization-nomination-form/ and download the Nomination Form.
The deadline for nominations is April 19. The Awards ceremony will be held Tuesday, June 11 at the Senate Small Business Committee Hearing Room, 428A Russell Senate Office Building, Washington DC.
Visit SBTC.org for more information.
ITIF Report: Bayh-Dole Act’s Vital Importance to the U.S. Life-Sciences Innovation System
Stephen Ezell of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) published a compelling and comprehensive report on the Bayh-Dole Act’s Vital Importance to the U.S. Life-Sciences Innovation System, and he cautions about misusing the “march-in right” provision and how it could negatively impact U.S. life-sciences innovation.
This is a large report, complete with footnotes, and Mr. Ezell is a very excellent and thorough researcher/reporter. He has included some significant coverage on SBIR/STTR as it relates to the NIH program, and could open some eyes as to it's role in life sciences. For example Ezell states:
"SBIR plays a key role in America’s innovation system, and particularly in the life-sciences sector. A number of groundbreaking life-sciences companies got a kick start from SBIR, including Genzyme (biotech therapies), Affymetrix (GeneChip), Amgen (biopharmaceuticals), Jarvik Heart (artificial heart), Biogen (neurological, autoimmune therapies), Millennium Pharma (gene databases), Geron (telomerase inhibitors for cancer treatment), and Neocrine Bioscience (neurological and endocrine pharmaceuticals).
SBIR plays a major role in making projects that would not happen otherwise possible. For instance, a study of NSF SBIR Phase II recipients found that 75 percent thought their project probably or definitely would not have proceeded absent program funding: 34 percent were definite and 41 percent thought it unlikely. In short, NIH’s SBIR/STTR program represents an indispensable asset within America’s life-sciences innovation system."
Mr. Ezell's complete report can be found on the ITIF website at: https://itif.org/publications/2019/03/04/bayh-dole-acts-vital-importance-us-life-sciences-innovation-system
Navy Forum for SBIR/STTR Transition (FST)
Now in its nineteenth year, the Navy's Forum has been a long-standing venue for connecting SBIR/STTR-funded technologies with warfighters, government acquisition and technical personnel, large primes, system integrators, and other potential partners/collaborators.
The Navy leadership challenged them to deliver innovation to warfighters faster by exploring new collaborations with regional technology hubs. The Navy SBIR/STTR Program Office is meeting this challenge through exciting academic and corporate partnerships.
The FST meeting will take place April 10-11, 2019 at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell, Lowell, MA. Check out the details at https://navyfst.com/
There sure was some ground breaking news this issue. I think we better check our credit cards to make sure the Air Force didn't borrow ours. Too early to tell if that will be the way of the future, but working for faster transactions is part of the goal.
Thanks for reading and I hope there was something here of use to you. Let me hear your thoughts or if there is something special you'd like reported.
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