What is AFWERX?
AFWERX is the Air Force's team of innovators who encourage and facilitate connections across industry, academia, and military to create transformative opportunities and foster a culture of innovation. Our mission is to solve problems and enhance the effectiveness of the service by enabling thoughtful, deliberate, ground-up innovation. We do this with an approach that combines startup urgency with the largest pool of motivated talent in the world to uncover opportunities to improve Air Force capabilities, connect and engage the right stakeholders, and facilitate outcomes. AFWERX was established in 2017 by the Secretary of the Air Force and reports to the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force.
How can I get involved with AFWERX?
Whether you are from the Air Force, Industry, Academia or other military branches, start by completing this form to join our ecosystem to let us know what you can bring to AFWERX and stay in the loop on upcoming events and opportunities.
- Join the USAF Ideation Platform
- Submit any innovative ideas for improving Air Force technology, processes or culture to the Spark Tank Challene or to the Open Call for Innovation challenge.
- Review the resources and educational materials we have gathered on innovation.
- Learn more about our Open Challenges.
- Visit our challenge website to learn about open challenge opportunities.
- For start-ups and small businesses, review how AFWERX is working with the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.
- Review how AFWERX is working with the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program to support university affilianted research and technology development. Essentially, STTR offers grants and contracts to Research Institutions that partner with Small Businesses and provide expertise and experience to their projects.
How can I schedule a tour with AFWERX?
Our Vegas hub offers a monthly tour of its 22,000 square foot testing facility. Schedule one today by checking out our contact us page.
The DC hub does not typically offer tours as it is primarily office space. With that in mind, tours requests can be submitted via this form.
The Austin hub does not offer tours; instead it holds a monthly showcase event where they share information about AFWERX either in-person or virtually. Inquire about the next showcase event by contacting them at email@example.com.
How can I contact someone from AFWERX to learn more?
Our team hosts a conference call every Monday at 1 p.m. EST for anyone interested in learning more about AFWERX. Complete this form to register for the next call.
Who does AFWERX partner with?
AFWERX has worked with small and large companies, many of the Air Force Major Commands, other service branches, and academia on various projects.
Who does AFWERX partner with?
AFWERX has worked with small and large companies, many of the Air Force Major Commands, other service branches, and academia on various projects.
Can AFWERX fund projects?
AFWERX does not directly fund projects. What we can do is identify funding sources available to you. A couple possible sources are (SBIR) contracts for companies and Squadron Innovation Funds for Airmen.
Is there an appeal process if my idea got rejected at a Spark Tank event?
No, but you can work with your Spark Cell or MAJCOM rep to see how you can work on executing your idea. You don’t need approval to try and prototype something.
What events does AFWERX host and what are they?
Please see our events page for more details.
We have ____ technology/product in _____ industry and are seeking opportunities to do business with the Air Force. How can we do that?
Join our ecosystem, look out for challenges that we post, check SBIR/STTR campaigns.
What happens after I attend a weekly webinar?
The weekly webinar is provided to offer you an introduction to the AFWERX ecosystem and opportunities for you and your company. During and after attending the webinar, we can provide you some ideas for how to move forward and who you can connect with.
How can I coordinate with Spark Cells?
If you want to get involved in Spark, use this map to find the Spark Cell nearest to you.
May companies share the onboarding slide deck with potential customers that they have Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) in place with? What about with companies that we do not have an NDA in place with yet?
Please do not distribute the slide deck widely except for people who need to know the information.
Can outside companies join on the weekly calls to show support?
No; the call is only for SBIR awardees.
How long between submitting WAWF and funds being delivered to the company?
Less than 30 days is the target - if the government takes longer than that, we are required to pay interest on those undisbursed funds. The deliverables need to be accepted for the 30 day period to start.
Is the PM information for the old SBIRs listed anywhere else?
You can use this site for the TPOCs for old SBIRs.
The TPOCs are a means to getting to the acquisition professionals involved, but they themselves will not always have resources at their disposal.
Can companies utilize SBIR funds for marketing/videos so long as those dollars are spent in the pursuit of supporting the marketing of the project?
You should use the dollars in whatever way you find to be the best way of finding product-market fit between your non-defense commercial product and your AF customer.
Will any information we submit in reports, documents, proposals, etc, be shared with the rest of the awardees?
No. We will inform you what information will be public before you submit something to us or ask for your permission to share it if it is afterwards.
Can we make a blanket statement that we release to all companies for their press releases/blogs/etc.?
Yes - here is the approved statement:
AFRL and AFWERX have partnered to streamline the Small Business Innovation Research process in an attempt to speed up the experience, broaden the pool of potential applicants, and decrease bureaucratic overhead. Beginning in SBIR 18.2, and now in 19.1, the Air Force has begun offering 'Special' SBIR topics that are faster, leaner, and open to a broader range of innovations.
Is there any way to speed up WAWF payments to match the speed of this accelerated SBIR program? Some companies may run into issues of being able to perform within the condensed timeframe if they don't recieve payment.
Our contracting team is working on that as fast as possible, and we are looking into better options for how we can do this. In shifting the SBIR process, not only do we have to transform the external facing processes, but also the internal ones we have been using. Thank you for your patience with us as we work through this.
Where do companies submit their Phase 1 reports?
Send to SBIR@afwerx.af.mil.
18.3 companies should continue to use their specific deliverables to the SBIR 18.3 deliverables inbox.
Do sales to foreign governments count as "commercial" customers?
No - products/services need to be sold in unmodified, substantial quantities in the common marketplace to count as commercial (FAR definition).
However, sales to foreign militaries do indicate operational utility, which is good. This does not remove the requirement for you to consider ITAR restrictions.
Do DoD Primes count as "commercial" customers?
No - a sale to a Prime that is solely executing the product in government non-commercial work is not considered commercial.
Do DoD Primes count as AF Customers?
No - the need or desire to sponsor work must originate from a federal civilian or officer in charge of the entity sponsoring activity. Primes do not control or have statutory authority over government budgets or mission objectives.
Is AFRL considered an Air Force customer for phase II?
In general your customer should be the end user of your product. In many cases AFRL is not the end-user, but rather an intermediary.
Do AF National Guard and AF Reserve count as AF customers?
Does the USAF consider sales to local/state governments, such as police/fire, as governmnet or commercial customers?
They are government (non-AF) customers.
Is it recommended that we obtain more than one AF customer?
We are looking for the amount of impact your solution can have on the Air Force. It helps if your solution impacts multiple AF customers, but one customer who can really benefit, is motivated, and is empowered to execute the pilot is better than multiple slightly interested AF customers.
Do you have any best practices on finding an AF Customer or the right channels to go through?
We have tried to provide as much information as possible in the On-boarding presentation. Also, there is a wealth of knowledge in the cohort and we encourage you to work with each other to the max extent possible.
My Air Force client is going to provide us with a CRADA. Will this document fill the need for a MOU or will I still need an MOU?
A CRADA is a good step, although additional information outside of the CRADA to get ready for the actual prototype may still be needed. For example, you will want to know who the end user and end customer would be, along with any related program offices, regulatory bodies/officials, or contracticng offices.
We're looking for some guidance/clarification on the type of people who are the "right Air Force customer." For our application, the end user is a fighter squadron, but the asset that we're proposing may be owned by a range. Would the squadron or the range be the right customer? Would we expect either of those customers to have the qualifications to be a PM, or do we need to look somewhere like AFRL?
Who will purchase and sustain your product? They are the end customer. In this specific instance, it may be the range. Is there a Program Office that is responsible for purchasing the products used by the range? Have these conversations with the Air Force Customers as you work with them.
How can we leverage a commercial development contract (from a big pharma for example) TRL 4-6 with this program offic? How would AF like us to approach you with this and can this help us into Phase 2 for matching funds?
Outside funding can be a factor in commercialization potential.
In general we are looking for non-defnese commercial solutions that need to be adapted to the DoD need. If a solution still requires extensive technological development in the non-defense market, it will increase the technical risk to any phase II trial project.
Can a company apply for another contract (SBIR or otherwise) for the exact same product that won them this SBIR contract?
No - there are rules against winning multiple contract with the same product or service ("double dipping"). You as the company are responsible for following these rules.
That said, if the product is sufficiently different (or complementary), then that is ok. For example, many companies will win multiple SBIRs over their lifetime, addressing different elements of the product or service that they ultimately deliver.
Do programs other than, but similar to, Programs of Record (such as ATCD’s), count as “transition partners” for the purposes of this program?
Yes. That said, they are not the ultimate transition partner; they are simply closer to the transition partner than the labs. I would rate an ATCD as a B+ in terms of how heavily we weigh their interest in your program (as compared to the Program Office, which would be an A+).
Does AFWERX want someone with interest and mission in this area to take on the SBIR as the PM for it?
The main intent is for you to find an end-user customer to work with and utilize the products/services your company proivdes. While not a requiremnet, if you find an end user and a PM, that indicates a higher likelihiood for your product to eventually transition to the warfighter which is the end goal for all involved.
What is the procedure for AFWERX approving a potential customer? How long will it take to get a response about whether or not a potential customer will "count" for the Phase II?
Upon submission of the signed MOU from your AF customer to the AFWERX team, we will respond within 5 business days whether or not the MOU is adequate.
AFWERX indicated that we need commercial support as well. Should we gather letters of support from commercial businesses wanting to work with us? How can we proceed with the commercial indication of interest?
Letters of support on the commercial side are less impactful than commercial sales or purchase orders. A commercial sales pipeline is a better indicator of commercial interest.
Can we conduct tests with AF Customers in Phase 1?
Yes, but do not let this detract from your ability to perform customer discovery with other AF Customers. You are entrepreneurs - we leave it to you to determine the best way to allocate resources when identifying and attracting strong AF Customers.
Keep in mind, now that you have been awarded a Phase 1, you are Phase III eligible (see Phase III section below).
What kind of support letter should an AF Customer write for Phase II?
Please use the provided MOU as a template.
If an AF Customer is uncomfortable signing an MOU, please feel free to connect them with us and/or share the AFWERX MF.
How do you know if the MOU is adequate?
Answer the questions that are included in the template.
Ask the AF Customer if they are the organization that is responsible for buying and sutsaining your solution. If not, seek introductions to the right organizations.
Does AFWERX have any guidance if a potential customer has refused to communicate with us because that customer is a part of the evaluation process for another of our applications to a SBIR topic? Efforts have been made to recuse ourselves from that SBIR, but we have received no response. As we all know - time is of the essence without AFWERX SBIR.
You can CC us on the response to those individuals and we can reach out as well, but we do not control the actions of other individuals in the Air Force.
Does the AF take international regulatory acceptance, standarization, or adoption of the product for commercial traction and sales potential into account to meet the requirements for entering into Phase II?
Your solution should meet all required regulatory requiremnets. Open standards are generally preferred. Any solution should also clearly demonstrate no-defense commercial sales beyond just being based on a standard.
Can we write proposals based on other commercial products we have, or are we limited to the one mentioned in our phase 1 proposal?
If you discover through your discussions with Air Force customers that another commercial solution would fit their needs better, you should absolutely use that.
That said, don’t go “off the reservation” - product should be similar in nature to your Phase I proposed solution.
Can additional customers be added during the active progress of Phase II if they do not commit during Phase I?
We encourage you not to view this process as ending at the end of the Phase I and recommend you see this as the start of your time having sole-source access to selling your commercial solution to the federal government. As a business owner you should feel free to manage your business to fit your interests, including bringing on customers throughout the entire process.
Is it recommended we obtain Army or Navy customers as well? Can the FDA be considered a customer?
While the phase II funding will be for AF customers - you can absolutely seek other customers in other branches and departments. Because you have now received a Phase I SBIR, you are authorized to receive a sole-source contract for a phase III from any federal government organization.
For the customer we identify in phase I, are we expected to install a prototype at that location in phase II? Or is it acceptable to prototype the technology at a non-customer site?
Our intent would be to run the prototype trial in conditions that are as close to the real world as possible. Thus we would encourage you to install it at the customer site. We recognize that this will increase the complexity of the project as it will require more coordination. SBIR Phase I and Phase II are intended to give time to help work through that coordination and decrease the regulatory and bureaucratic risks that go along with any new solution.
Also it will depend on your proposed AF customer. If they are comfortable with an off-site test then that's okay.
Is it okay if we work with our potential AF customer and decide to do the Phase II Trial at our facility rather than on-site at the AFB?
As long as your AF customer is okay with that, then yes; do what you deem necessary.
Are there bonus points for Phase II awards if the work and dollars are going to states / regions that are underrepresented in the defense spending landscape?
No. All evaluations are merit based.
How are Phase II deliverables staggered? Monthly? Upon delivering X? Or some other schedule?
There is a 10% payment after the first deliverable (10 days in) and then payments once a quarter for the rest of the contract time period. Variations will depend on your specific contract. In general, Phase II purchase orders are more customized than Phase I, but we are looking to stick with the once a quarter payments.
Is there any point submitting a phase II proposal without a MOU?
You will likely be competing with folks who have, so take that into consideration as you look at the evaluation criteria.
Can a company apply for a future phase II if they are not selected for a phase II in their current cycle?
Yes you can if there are still Direct to Phase II opportuniteis in future solicitations.
What is Phase III? What are the benefits?
See this form from the Air Force (long and detailed).
See this from the Navy (shorter presentation). Main points below:
- Phase III refers to work that derives from, extends, or completes an effort made under prior SBIR funding agreemnets, but is funded by sources other than the SBIR Program.
- Phase III work may be for products (including test and evaluation), production, services, R/R&D, or any combination thereof.
- Phase III contracts may be awarded on a non-competitive basis to a Prime contractor or to a subcontractor at any tier under a government contract.
- There is no limit on the number, duration, type, or dollar value of Phase III awards made to a business concern.
- A Federal agency may enter into a Phase III SBIR agreement at any time with a Phase I or II awardee.
- There is no limit on the time that may elapse between a Phase I or Phase II award and a Phase III award, or between a Phase III award and any subsequent Phase III award.
Can you elaborate a bit on "reaching Phase III" please? To my understanding Phase III is a contracting mechanism that allows government agencies to give you a contract for your Phase I or II technology without going through a competitive process like they normally would have to. Essentially, I can get non-SBIR or direct program funding in other ways than a Phase III, correct?
Yes, you can get non-SBIR funding in ways other than a Phase III. However, the phase III allows you to receive a sole-source contract from any federal government agency.
How might we find a telephone contact or email for an acquisitions manager? Is there an online roster at the base level? Or do we just have to keep googling?
There's not a contact email or roster for acquisition managers. You will have to work through the networks for introductions to them with your potential customers as you would in any big company.
Is there any funding of project management costs that an Air Force customer might incur?
The Air Force does not fund project managemnet costs; there is not currently a mechanism for that. This needs to fit within the Air Force customer's workload/timelines.
Can AFWERX setup a web page with infographics and easy to understand text that we can point USAF customers towards so they can quickly understand & digest the reasons, methodology, and goals of the 005 dual-purpose technologies SBIR?
Please reference the Memorandum that was sent to you to share the intent of the SBIR program with any Air Force customer.
Is it possible for a firm to establish a foreign subsidiary?
It is certainly possible, however this is a conversation that is better to have with your Company's lawyer. The eligibility information for the SBIR program can be found here.
Does the USAF object to crowd-selling/funding our commercial product during or after Phase II? Examples - selling pre-orders or raising funds on Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, or similar platforms. Does a crowd oriented campaign like this satisfy the commercial requirements for Phase II?
You are encouraged to sell your solution through whatever means you can within applicable laws. It is not our intent to transition you away from being a commercial-focused company, but rather to find a way to adapt your commercial-first solution to an Air Force need.
Does our Air Force customer need to make funds available or is it out of AFWERX?
The funds for SBIR/STTR come from the SBIR/STTR program. No one needs to make funds available for Phase I. for Phase II if you want matching funds for RAPID then an org would need to bring funds to the table. Or if a an org wants to go to Phase III with a company. Funds from an AF stakeholder are not required to pursue D2P2. Your solution should be ready for Trial phase meaning that the AF unit has buy in (MOU signed).
For Air Force SBIR Phase I: -What types of sales numbers are you looking for in the slide deck?
We are looking for both (commercial, government) sales OR a plan aka pathway your company intends to gain financial support for your tech.
We’re in a current P2. We’re eligible for a Direct to Phase 2 (D2P2) with 1:1, but are we eligible for multiple D2P2s this cycle if we have substantially different technologies?
Only 1 D2P2 per company.
Can a single company just have one Phase 2 contract as well?
Currently a company can apply for D2P2 and then 19.1 P2 at the same time. In 19.3 this will change to only one Phase II per company.
For the Technical Volume 15 pages format, do we use a free format or do we have to use the specified format that applies to the long proposal?
Does this special topic D2P2 require a 25 page "Feasibility Documentation" to be submitted as part of Volume 5? Or only the 15 page technical volume, 15 slides and 100 sec video?
15 slides, 15 page white paper + 100 second video.
If we intend to apply for two D2P2 for different solutions with different stakeholders but from the same company (again, here in 192) is that allowed?
Short answer is yes you can apply. Our intent is to afford a company ONE open topic phase II at a time but yes you can apply.
There are a few Need IDs in the SBIR 19.2 Excel doc that refer to attachments (i.e., 6270, 6250). Are those attachments available to us?
Not at this time. they can be once on contract. We had to make information fairly available for all and were unable to do attachments this round. The points of contacts (POCs) will not be made available to you either. Once you are in a phase I we will connect you with those personnel.
Is there guidance somewhere to help our customer write a Phase III off of our current Phase II? Or can AFWERX help us in some way? We have folks who want to go to P3.
Yes we can help go to phase III - that is the goal! AFWERX can help. Please reach out to SBIR@afwerx.af.mil and label the subject line.
Feasibility documentation - is it part of technical volume or separate? Can we limit the length to 5 pages?
Part of the 15 slides, 15 pages, 100 second video - not separate.
Do you have some examples of type of sales number being looked for (ex. AAR, pipeline, quarter over quarter growth)
Please answer this the best way to highlight your commercial success.
For the D2P2, does the tech volume have a 15 or 50 page limit? The instructions are not clear. (page 2 versus page 4).
15 pages, 15 slides, 100 second video for this topic.
We are MD5/NSIS phase I - can we indicate in header or footer.
Yes, indicate within your proposal. Ensure your adaptation w/in NSIS is different from the one you are proposing for the AF.
Our understanding is the MD5 is using the DP2 option here as their way to pursue Phase 2s. Is that subject to the same limitation of only one D2P2 per performer? We are in a situation where we are strongly encouraged under both MD5 and AF182-006 to be writing a D2P2 as a means to Phase 2 for two totally different technologies, and we are wondering if we are able to get both?
Our intent is have companies participate in one AIR FORCE OPEN topic and not limit your involvement with other branch's SBIR initiatives.
Do we include the AF customer MOU in technical volume or as separate upload?
The MOU is a separate upload. It does not count against page count of technical volume.
BAA refers to technical volume as Volume 2, but AF calls it Volume 1 - does that matter?
Please follow the AF instructions, thanks for catching our mistake.
Is there a place where we indicate if we're applying for a "Rapid" submission? Or should we just include the "Rapid application package" in the "Other" section of the Volume 5 upload?
Both - indicate in the package that it is RAPID and include the RAPID package at the end.
Does the evaluation process for Phase I change or is it weighted differently if there is a preliminary AF stakeholder identified in the proposal?
This will count as part of your evaluation. The more detailed your understanding of your Air Force customer, the better - but you need not have it all figured out from the beginning before your Phase I.
Is it only one Phase 2 across both a baseline Phase 2, and Rapid Phase 2? Or can we have one of each?
How does a commercial or government/military partner that wants to commit matching funds to a D2P2 do so? Is it through the “MEMORANDUM FOR AFWERX/AFRL SBIR TEAM” or is there a separate document or process to commit those funds? Finally, when and how must the money committed by those organizations move?
They need to sign the MOU and then reach out to us to send the money so we can obligate to the contract if awarded. They can send us an email at SBIR@afwerx.af.mil and we have a weekly call for DoD folks to get an answer to any question every Friday.
If we submit multiple phase I proposals under different “focus areas”, assuming we have compelling proposals, could we receive multiple awards?
Theoretically yes, but understand a company can only have one Phase II in the future. No. You will only receive one Phase I, highest scoring.
The table on page AF DPII-2 of the instruction states that the POP for a Rapid submission can be 24 months. Everywhere else, the documentation refers to a 15 month POP. Just wanted to confirm that the POP for Rapid is indeed 24 months + 3 months for reporting, i.e. a total of 27 months?
You have the correct understanding for RAPID. Up to 15 months refers to a typical application (no leverage).
We understand that Lockheed Martin is interested in Phase I awardees from the current SBIR cycle, would they consider previous Phase I awardees from Q4 of 2018 who plan to submit a Phase II proposal this quarter?
I am not tracking the Lockheed Martin context. Can't speak to who Lockheed will prefer. But as long as you are Prime (completed 2/3 of the work) any company can participate w/ 1/3 of the effort.
For Phase I proposals that have a preliminary AF stakeholder but also overlap a Focus Area, should the focus area be called out in the proposal?
Yes, it would be beneficial to show the interest into your work. And yes, please call out the Focus Area in the proposal.
In previous rounds, Phase 2 proposals have required a 1-page summary of the technology. Is that required as part of the D2P2 application, or is it just the 15 page proposal/15 page slide deck/video? Also, for the 15 page proposal, do MOUs count in the page limit? And do we need to upload a separate technical feasibility document for these D2P2 submissions?
Yes, a 1-page should be submitted but the instructions trump my guidance.
In our research, we found the following document describing “Mission Needs” on the AFWERX 19.2 Special Topic website: https://www.afwerx.af.mil/resources/19.2-Open-Topic-Mission-Needs.docx. Are these two focus areas still valid? If so, do they have a Focus Area ID number?
We have two vehicles to identify an AF user: 1) Focus Area and 2) Needs ID. Both are valid.
For the Rapid Direct P2 fund matching, would an existing/ongoing funded Air Force program to a small business at the time of P2 proposal be eligible?
Leveraging of funds do not meet the intent if coming from another Phase 2. Please note, our intent is to have only one Phase 2 in the Open Topic pipeline.
On the AIR FORCE 19.2 SBIR instructions page AF-2, it says the NAICS code for this acquisition (AF192-001) is 541715. Our NAICS code is 511210 (Software publishers). Can you confirm that listing our existing NAICS code is acceptable?
That is fine.
Should we provide letters of support along with our 5 page technical volume and slide deck?
For a phase I proposal, letters of support are great but not required. Having an understanding of what problem you are solving and who would benefit from your tech is ideal.
For the D2P2 RAPID program, is there an advantage to get private matching fund in demonstrating commercial dual-use?
Yes, more traction for your commercial company.
What are the technical volume/proposal requirements for a direct to Phase II proposal? It was not clear in the RFPs?
It is the same as Phase II instructions for 19.1. Please reference.
Where can we find the # for the Focus Area - it’s not on the download
Just identify the actual label of the Focus Area.
Is the work plan part of the Technical Volume for Pitch Day topics?
Part of the Technical Volume.
In D2P2, the video expense is really fully shouldered by us. If we’ve already produced some videos that are good high-level overviews, can we use more standard videos to save on marketing costs? Or will that hurt our submission?
The quality of the video is not evaluated. Although it can make it easier to watch, we are focused on the video clarifying how your company will solve an AF problem.
Would an existing *Non-SBIR* Air Force development program be eligible for Rapid Phase 2 fund matching?
In general the answer is no if the funding is coming from a contract.
Is there an outline/TOC for the 15 slides? Did not see in the instructions.
Example slides on AFWERX.AF.MIL Check the website, we have an outline
For rapid application phase II if I have an investors that is putting in 250k does AFWERX match this 1x1? So we are requesting 750k for the grant plus 250k from investor plus 250k from AFWERX? Total $1.25m? Is this correct? Or would the investor have to match the 750k ? Please explain in depth how the matching works?
Not quite. The SBIR fund will match private investors 1:1 and match DoD investment 4:1, assuming no previous Phase 2 contracts. We will match private investment 1:1 for the contract. So if you have 250K in private funding, we would do 250k in matching. So the company would get 250K from the Air Force total. The matching and the contract are not separate.
SBIR Phase I: You're looking for an 8-week scientific study for $50k, is AF study staff provided and/or does the company have to pay for those people?
We are looking for you to do customer discovery, AF staff is not provided.
SBIR Phase I: Is there an F&A amount that should be calculated into the $50k budget?
Please reference the instructions and follow up with submissions through SBIR website.
Should we get letters of support?
Signed MOUs are better.
How much in sales should we have and do you count DoD supply Chain.
We look at ALL sales, DOD and commercial. Show traction outside SBIR funds is what we focus on.
As a Phase 1 applicant under the SBIR Open Topic, if we have a software solution that had a previous solicitation from AF clearly showing there is demand for the training solution, should we then use the contact and end user within the solicitation as proof of demand for our solution? What is the likelihood of being granted the award knowing there was a proof of demand through a solicitation? Of the 280 Grants awarded over last 12 months how many applicants applied so we know acceptance rates.
Yes clear buy in from an AF units weigh great in your evaluation score. That's not the only pillar. Be sure to convey your commercialization plan and technical pathway to ensure adaptation is not a risk.
For 19.2-001 SBIR: If we are applying for a stated focus area or user need, what do you recommend we provide as "evidence of preliminary discussions with USAF stakeholders?" Are you looking for a statement, letter of interest, or just a name and contact number?
Name and contact number will suffice but you are welcome to provide a letter of interest but please don't mandate the customer to sign. A letter of support is good! Or if you can get an MOU that would be great. Provide a description that proves you understand your stakeholder.
Is there a problem if we have foreign advisors?
Please let us know.
For D2P2, is there a dollar set aside for companies that completed a MD5 SBIR?
No dollar amount set aside. Funds received are specific for this topic.
An outside investor is defined as other companies, venture capital firms, individual “angel” investors, non-SBIR/non-STTR government programs, or any combination thereof. Does this mean that any military organization that uses SBIR/STTR is ineligible or does it just mean that other SBIR funded programs are ineligible? For example could an AFRL or a Naval Warfare Center office be a partner?
AFRL or Naval Warfare Center do not count as an outside investor, which is matched at up to 1:1 for RAPID Phase IIs. They would, however, count as government investors, which are matched up to 4:1 for RAPID phase IIs.
For the SBIR - are non-mil customer testimonials of use? If so, do you want to be able to contact them directly to speak with them live? Since these are customers does the AF work with us to ensure the customer’s aren’t overly-impacted?
We don’t intend to contact your customers, but are looking to see that you are selling your solution to non-defense commercial customers.
For D2P2, is there a special application process for companies that completed an MD5 SBIR? We were recommended to apply to this project by MD5. So is there a special box we check when we’re uploading the proposal?
No special application process for companies that have worked with other SBIR topics.
I’m looking for format/content requirements for dual use Phase I applications (5 page doc), I see the items on page 14 of the instructions but do these items supersede the traditional Phase I elements referenced in other parts of the instruction?
Up to 5 tech vol and up to 15 slides.
For D2P2, are technical interest areas for the direct to Phase 2 solicitation important? Or if we have an interested customer who has given us a memo, is that sufficient?
You should have an interested customer with your D2P2 proposal. Someone within the AF that agrees with your approach.
I spoke with my AF customer and they mentioned that the funds the base has available can only be used for phase III proposals? They can’t use funds to invest in phase II projects ? Anyway you can address this? How can we approach the customer to feel comfortable to put in funds for phase II?
For 19.3 they will be able to issue 3400 funds to match for your Phase II. If they want to match right now for a Direct to Phase II, then they should reach out to us about how they can do that and we can explain it to them.
If we are applying for AF SBIR Open Topic and NSF SBIR. is there a conflict with having two SBIR applications for same topic / application?
Yes, you legally cant be paid twice for the same work, you are held responsible for this.
For 19.02-001 SBIR: What role does the Focus Area POC play in the proposal evaluation process? Do they review the proposals in their area and advise on award?
They will be involved in the process, but we cannot discuss specifics about source selection procedures.
Reading through other questions, it sounds like the MOU is submitted separately, not as part of the 15-page proposal. What if you have more than one MOU? Are they all submitted separately?
Submit all MOUs in the ‘Other’ volume - submit them all (many people just submit them as one combined pdf).
Is it still possible to ask the USAF stakeholder for a letter if he is the author of the need?
Yes you can, but you can also just describe your customer discovery with them.
If we have a Phase 2 award from 18.3 that we are currently delivering, which method should we use to apply in expectation to receive a phase 2 award for 19.1? Phase 2 under 19.1 or 19.2 Direct to Phase 2?
In this case, please apply to the D2P2 for this round.
I thought the 4:1 match was only for first time SBIR applicants. Is this not correct?
The 4:1 ratio is for first time PHASE 2 awardees. After that, it is a 1:1 match.
What format should be used for the video? How can it be uploaded? The Part 5 on the submission site only takes DOC, PPT and PDF files
Link to a youtube video, vimeo video, or somewhere we can access the link.
Is SBIR 192-001 the topic to pursue to get to the Space Pitch Day for SMC?
Can we reference multiple focus areas?
Yes, but remember that quality is more important than quantity. Show that you understand the user needs more so than just listing their focus area number. clearly explain how your tech will be adapted.
Can the AFWERX user need like #6253 be addressed as a direct to phase I (AF192-D001). If so, is the phase II max $750K or $1.500K?
The max is $750K with no matching, and $1.5M as a RAPID (with private or government matching).
How mature of a technology is AFWERX interested in? Is there a floor or ceiling TRL that you are interested in? Are you looking at technology that can be productized in the Phase II or are you looking at existing products that already exist and you want us to sell the USAF on the product?
We are looking across the spectrum.
If we want to address multiple Focus Areas in the open topic 19.2-001 should we apply multiple times?
No, just apply once.
If we have already been awarded a Phase I, are we eligible for Pitch Day participation?
You will need to apply to this 19.2-001 topic to be eligible for the Phase II pitch days.
Can a company have both a Phase I STTR and a Phase 1 SBIR if they are two entirely separate projects?
Regarding 19.2 SBIR - AF192-001 Open Innovation in Dual Use Technology topic:
- 1. Can we apply for both SBIR Phase 1 proposal and Direct to Phase II proposal?
- 2. To confirm, the Technical Volume is not to exceed 5 pages for special topics AF192-001 and AF19D-001?
- 3. Do we exactly follow the outline on the Sample Application Pitch Deck document for our pitch deck (SBIR Pitch Deck-Slides 13-29)?
- 4. Where do we attach the pitch deck in the online application? Combined with the technical volume or under supporting documents?
- 5. Where do we attach the AF SBIR Training certificate of completion?
- 1. Yes (but you must mention this in your application).
- 2. Technical volume for the D2P2 is 15 slides, 15 pages, 100 second video.
- 3. You do not need to follow it exactly, but it is meant as a guide.
- 4. Either way is fine.
- 5. Supporting Documents.
Is the Pitch Day the only way to get to Phase 2 for those focus areas? What's the process for those areas with no Pitch Day?
There will still be a non-pitch application ‘catch-all’ for those phase I companies that did not get picked up in the Pitch Days (it is still a competitive process and no company is guaranteed an award).
For the D2P2 topic we should use the same format/sections for the technical proposal as they outline in the solicitation for topics D002-D006, just in 15 rather than 50 pages for this topic D001, correct?
Can the AFWERX identified USER NEEDs only be addressed via a small business vehicle or are there other possible vehicles (not requiring small business status)?
For this SBIR process, you must be a small business. Larger business can become sub-contractors of small businesses.
The instructions for the Phase I say "The funds obligated on the resulting Phase I SBIR contracts are to be used for the sole purpose of conducting a thorough feasibility study using scientific experiments, laboratory studies, commercial research and interviews.". This is conflicting with the customer discovery aim you're talking about.
Customer discovery is part of your feasibility study. You will need to determine who will benefit/fund your adaptation.
Is it advisable to also reference an applicable user need that was listed on Announcement 19.1?
No, use the ones we have for 19.2.
So if there isn’t a solid fit with a focus area, but we do win phase 1, we have 90 days to find the AF customer. Is there support from the team to get to the identified potential customer to find the decision-maker/budget holder?
We help you with some very basic resources on how to get started, but we expect you to figure it out; that is what you are getting paid for.
we are on a 19.1 phase 1 and hopefully moving to phase 2; We can't do a 19.2 phase 1 if we get our 19.1 phase 2, correct?
You can only have one Phase 2 at a time. Technically you could have a phase I but you won't have a path to another simultaneous Phase 2.
SO TRL 3 or 4 ideas are acceptable, with the idea that we get someone in USAF to stand up for it during the Phase I?
If you find a customer that can use this tech/idea.
So if I'm working on a Phase 1 and targeting a focus area with no pitch day. Do all of the Phase 1s working toward focus areas with no pitch day end up in the same bucket?
There are Focus Areas not going to pitch day. You don't need an identified Focus Area to apply. All Phase I companies that are not awarded a Phase II during a Pitch Day will still be able to compete for the ‘Open Topic’ Phase II.
How, if at all, does the 192-001 and this discussion of pitch days relate to AF192-005 and 006?
Those topics are still happening. Those are the Phase 1 pitch days - which are run separately than this process.
Is the AF Academy considered a customer in the AF?
Could the customer be an ANG or AF Reserves organization?
Can you provide the instructions for what we need to include in Direct to Phase II feasibility doc to qualify that we met the phase one criteria?
On SBIR Website and AFWERX.AF.MIL.
For external funding, what is the time frame? If I raised a month ago, would that count?
Only if those funds were for your SBIR adaptation. It doesn't count if the funds were simply for the company.
If we are considering a Phase I SBIR, how do we determine whether we should actually be going direct to Phase 2?
If you have an identified customer and they are ready to sign an MOU, then do D2P2. If you haven't figured out a customer yet or want more time to do so, apply to Phase I.
For the 4:1 match it says "DoD" match; can it be from the Army or does it have to be AF?
It can be Army or Air Force.
Do small business credentials such as WOSB or HUBZone influence awards?
No. You just have to meet the requirements as a small business.
What qualifies as an Air force customer? Is it anyone within DOD?
Air Force unit or Joint (Multiple branches) count.
Do we need multiple MOU’s for each customer, or just put multiple signatures on one doc?
One MOU is ideal that identifies all stakeholders potentially involved.
Can we apply to multiple pitch day topics?
You can apply but only one Phase I will be awarded.
What would an Air Force customer “investment” for a 4:1 match look like? Would that be product license pre-sales, or professional services hours, or…?
The AF unit would be able to apply 3400/3600 funds to the SBIR contract that would be awarded to you.
We have a product that is a modification of a current product. The one the AF wants is in a breadboard phase. The breadboard phase means we have a prototype built and we need to have it tested to meet mil standards. The current other products are sold to DOD and commercial customers. Can we participate in this?
Yes you can apply, that is the point of the customer discovery and prototype phases.
Is the Need ID list still open for new additions from Air Force personnel?
Yes, have them submit on Ideascale and email us at SBIR@afwerx.af.mil.
If we are a new startup company (less than 1 year old) with a software solution in beta testing and not generating any revenue yet. can we still qualify for SBIR Open Topic? How can we pass this test given the above?
Consider STTR, and/or apply for SBIR and see how well you will compete while understanding you are less competitive for SBIR due to lack of revenue. We will award points for private investment and ANY demonstrated tractions and LOIs.
Can you provide examples of SBIR Open Topic examples previously funded that fall under the Focus Area 16 : Immersive Training Solutions? Especially immersive training solutions that do not have a direct combat training application?
Good question, immersive training refers to how the Air Force can get someone ready for combat rather than directly participating in combat.
For open area Phase 1, if the majority of work is market discovery do we still need an MOU from a customer when submitting Phase I proposal?
No you do not. The point of your Phase I is to get an MOU No and have an understanding of who will benefit from your tech.
For D2P2, if we obtain funds eligible for matching after submitting the proposal but before award, can it be converted to Ph2 Rapid?
No, if the funds are possible. apply for RAPID.
One of our product evaluators is responsible for validating Human Systems Integration for AF Systems and is potentially willing to help assess usability, value and make recommendations to meet AF needs, but they would not be an end user. So although they may be willing to assist in recommending acquisition to the applicable workforce, they would not be a buyer of the product.
Okay, that is good to have help assessing, but then you should talk to the buyer/end user.
Can matching happen during phase II from the same customer?
Yes, within phase II enhancements. ~2-4 months after phase II is awarded.
So if funds are possible but not committed, the proposal should be submitted as Rapid?
How often is the D2P2 proposal period? If we miss July 1st, when can we apply next?
Every 4 months; Google SBIR BAA schedule.
If we submit early and you need clarification, will that come after July 1 or earlier?
After 1 Jul.
since we don’t need the money for development (we have an existing commercialized product) and only to cover cost of time for developing the AF customer during phase 1 - is it a benefit to ask for less than $50k?
Yes you can! that would be great to highlight exactly how much you need.
On the chart on the Phase 1 proposal instructions it states that the technical volume should not exceed 5 pages for special topics AF192-001. What are the special topics? Is that all of the focus areas on “19.2 Open Technology Focus Areas”?
192-001 qualifies as a special topic.
How strictly is the 100 second timeline enforced for the video?
EXTREMELY strict. 100 seconds max.
Does the structure of the company applying matter (i.e. LLC, C-Corp, etc.)
No it does not.
For STTR, if my company is in the US and the university is in the UK, that's okay, right?
As long as the company itself is based in the US, it doesn't matter where the partner company is.
Can a phase I party apply to D2P2?