SBIR Insider - March 21, 2019 - Special on DoD


Dear SBIR Insider,


This is a special edition of interest to our DoD focused readers.  Last week the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) held a hearing based on the President's FY 2020 budget request.  There were hints as to changes we are seeing (some big) and will continue to see in the DoD programs including SBIR/STTR. 



Big Changes Due to the National Defense Strategy Report (NDS)


Many big changes, including some to the SBIR program are due to the National Defense Strategy (NDS) Report we told you about in our December issue (see Big Changes in the Wind at DoD )


This SASC Budget Hearing last week was in concert with congress's efforts to build and continue on the road to pass the FY-2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which usually carries something of influence (both dollars and SBIR legislative updates) to the SBIR/STTR programs and the overall small high tech business community. 


Yes, the overall DoD budget is going up (if passed), but in order to be in line with the NDS, there will be areas of growth and areas of reduction.  In response to a question about those targeted areas, acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan stated that the DoD would realign resources in the budget to implement the NDS program.


SASC Chair, James Inhofe (R-OK) asked Shanahan what general areas of increase, as well as decreases would be done in order to meet the blueprint of the NDS.  Shanahan stated three major structural changes to accelerate.  "The first is Space... the Space Force itself is intended to accelerate dramatically."  "The second is Missiles, and the best characterization of that is hypersonics."  "The third is an investment in Cyber Capabilities."


Shanahan went on to say, "When we think about reductions, I think the Army is the best illustration of that, in their modernization plans as they look to make reductions across their portfolio... I'll say about 100 different programs." 


Could the NDS report released last November already have an effect on SBIR?  Perhaps so, at least in part (coming from the brass upstairs). 


In our March 8, 2019 SBIR Insider we highlighted some unusual SBIR opportunities such as the Navy's upcoming "out of cycle" SBIR Broad Agency Announcement (BAA), and the recently held Air Force Pitch Day  These unusual events led many of you to ask us what is going on?  We'll attempt to shed some light on it for you. 


The Air Force Pitch Day has already taken place, and we hope to have coverage for you in the next issue.  The Navy's upcoming "out of cycle" ADAPT BAA is now in pre-release and we'll concentrate on that opportunity for now.


We are fortunate to bring you a brief interview about this BAA with Mr. Bob Smith, Director of the Navy's SBIR/STTR Program.  Our goal is to investigate why their ADAPT BAA is "out of cycle", and what might we expect to see from the Navy in the future.  First let's look at the BAA opportunity (since it was just issued and posted on FedBizOpps).



Navy Issues Accelerator Direct to Phase II Pilot BAA Opportunity (ADAPT)


This new Naval Accelerator Pilot opportunity, known as Accelerated Delivery and Acquisition of Prototype Technologies (ADAPT) is a special "out-of-cycle" Direct to Phase II DoD BAA that was just issued in its pre-release form (similar to regular DoD SBIR BAAs).  Although this is a Navy only opportunity, it is going through DoD SBIR submission channels.


The dates are:


Pre-release: March 20, 2019 (you can communicate with topic author until the opening);


Opening: April 12, 2019;


Closing:  May 13, 2019 at 2:00pm. 


There are six (6) topics.  They are:


  • NX19-001 - Compact Inflatable Structures for Submerged Payload Launch & Recovery
  • NX19-002 - On Demand Structures - Submarine Launch of UUVs
  • NX19-003 - Flow Conditioning for Improved Piping Arrangement
  • NX19-004 - Quiet Bunks
  • NX19-005 - Cool Suits
  • NX19-006 - High Power Compact Fuel Cell System


The Navy is holding a special ADAPT BAA Workshop, April 10, in Lowell, MA. Workshop information and registration is available at


Complete ADAPT BAA and information is available on the DoD website at


As of this evening (may change by the time you read this), if you go to the sbir defensebusiness website, please download the Word file under "Component Instructions" Navy Direct to Phase II.  The file under "DoD Instructions" is currently "hosed", and was irrelevant.  That could change, so beware.  You can also visit the Navy's SBIR web site at



Interview with Mr. Bob Smith, Navy SBIR/STTR Program Director


In response to our reader's interest in what's going on with this special BAA, Mr. Bob Smith graciously consented to a brief interview by your somewhat illiterate SBIR Insider:


Rick (R)  Thanks Bob for taking the time for this brief interview.  We are seeing some changes being brought about by the National Defense Strategy Report.  It is somewhat critical about the way DoD has been doing business, and wants to find better, faster and less expensive ways to provide solutions to the services. 


Why is the Navy issuing this unusual out-of-cycle BAA?


Bob Smith (B)  We are issuing the out of cycle for several reasons, to include:


* It is just one of several pilots we have underway or will execute this year/the near future as we pilot new ways doing things differently.


(R) [interrupting as usual] What is the goal?


(B) We want to validate:


* - Can we (Navy) do a better job reaching non traditional companies?


* - Is there another way to develop topics than just asking acquisition what they think they need?


* - Can we move the "back office" functions (money, contracts, decisions) faster?


* - Can we get increased impact while also decreasing the process time line, accelerate the technology development?


(R) Okay, I'll buy that, but why are you doing this out-of-cycle BAA when the DoD 19.2 BAA will be opening about a month later?


(B) Big drivers --  It was when OSD could support our out of cycle BAA  and not impact "normal operations," and also we didn't want to wait until after 19.2 [BAA].


(R) Most people don't realize the "hoops" you and the other DoD agencies have to go through for topic development, and presentation within the DoD's omnibus SBIR/STTR BAAs. 


(B) ADAPT is the first of many pilots being implemented to increase the agility of the DON SBIR/STTR Programs to develop and deliver technology to the warfighter faster.


(R) Okay Bob, I promised to keep this short (not an easy job for me..) and I want to thank you for the opportunity to give our community a little clarity as to the Navy's SBIR means and methods. 


Information of the ADAPT Workshop is listed above.  The Navy is also holding its 2019 Navy Forum for SBIR/STTR Transition (FST) April 10 – 11 at the Tsongas Center, just down the street from the Workshop, in Lowell MA.  See for details. 



DARPA Also "Modernizes" Their SBIR


It seems that "out-of-cycle" in the DoD may be contagious! DARPA has announced they are modernizing their SBIR program (and DARPA does outstanding things)!  They have announced they will be doing out-of-cycle opportunities,(also in direct to phase II) in order to attract more innovative companies to want to work with the federal government.


Dr. Steven Walker, director of DARPA recently stated "It’s essential to change our acquisition practices to mirror the commercial marketplace if we hope to attract revolutionary companies that normally avoid working with the federal government. This move will provide DARPA the flexibility to operate at a much faster pace than traditional SBIR/STTR contracting cycles have historically allowed.”


No wonder that Susan Celis, the DARPA guru has been smiling so much!  You can read more about it at




Current SBIR/STTR Status


We have a few things percolating.  As usual, some bills are floating around congress wanting to take some SBIR/STTR money to help fund other programs.  More on that soon.


NASA's SBIR/STTR solicitation will be closing 3/29/19, NIST closes 4/19/19, and DOT on 4/22/19.  NIH stays on it's usual three receipt date cycles.  The current cycle closes 4/5/19 and the next on 9/5/19. 



Closing Notes


Hope you'll forgive having two SBIR Insider's in one month, not our usual intention.  We had many readers offer comments about our NSF article in the March 8 edition, both pro and con (imagine that.. two sides of an issue).  We will share some of that in our next Insider.  We also had some good insights on the Air Force Pitch Day, and we'll fill you on those as well.


We've been hearing some pretty great things about the NIH and National Cancer Institutes' (NCI) success, and we're looking forward to presenting those to you.  I don't want you to think we're going to be strictly DoD centric. 


Also, an invitation to any of our agency's SBIR/STTR PMs for an interview.  Our readers would love to hear from you and we'd be pleased to work something out.  Just drop me a note if you're interested.  No "gotcha" journalism involved, but we do want "plain speak" for our audience.  Yes, I will challenge some things if you offer a bunch of "kaka" but you guys don't do that. 


Remember, if you want to unsubscribe just reply to this email AND put the word REMOVE in the subject line. 







Rick Shindell

SBIR Insider

Zyn Systems

P.O. Box 3057

Sequim, WA 98382



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