Special SBIR Topics


The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is a highly competitive program that encourages domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) that has the potential for commercialization. Through a competitive awards-based program, SBIR enables small businesses to explore their technological potential and provides the incentive to profit from its commercialization. By including qualified small businesses in the nation’s R&D arena, high-tech innovation is stimulated and the United States gains entrepreneurial spirit as it meets its specific research and development needs.

The special US Air Force SBIR topics (AF192-001 and AF192-D001), developed in partnership with AFRL, NSIN, and AFWERX, are experiments to increase the efficiency, effectiveness, and transition rate of the SBIR program.

For the ‘Open’ Topic, led by AFWERX, companies with existing commercial products or services that may also be useful to the Air Force are invited to apply. Several barriers to working with the Air Force have been removed or mitigated for this program, to include a shorter application process, an accelerated contract award, and a shorter period of performance.

Chris Benson

Capability Lead, Special SBIR Topics

How to Get Involved

Phase I Application Resources

SBIR 19.2 Open Topic Description (PDF)


Broad Focus Areas and Specific User Needs for 19.2 Open Topic

Other Resources

Phase II (and Direct to Phase II) Application Resources

Direct to Phase II Open Topic Description


Other Resources

Phase III Resources

Companies: One of the most valuable traits of a SBIR/STTR contract is that after a company has received one, they can then transition the solution *sole-source* (without jumping through many hoops) to any agency in the US Federal Government via a SBIR Phase III. This is the end goal for all of our companies that go through the SBIR/STTR process and we encourage all companies to stay focused on making it to Phase III.

Government: The SBIR Phase III contracting tool might be one of the best 'hidden not-so-secrets' in the acquisition world. If you are working with a company who has a Phase I or a Phase II SBIR contract, then you can acquire the solution *sole-source* using a pre-approved (Justification and Approval) J&A. This Phase III contract can be done by nearly any contracting shop, and if you don't have the contracting resources, you can work with GSA through their pilot program.

What's the catch: While SBIR/STTR Phase I and Phase II are managed and mostly funded by the SBIR/STTR office, the Phase III is quite different in the fact that the SBIR/STTR process need not manage the process at all, and the SBIR/STTR office does not provide funds for the SBIR Phase IIIs. In a sense, "Phase III" is a misnomer, it could be better described as 'Sole-Source Government Purchase'. In general Phase III (Sole-Source Government Purchase) can use nearly any color of money (i.e. R&D, O&M, etc), they have NO limit to the dollar amount, and have NO time limit on when they can be enacted (i.e. it is okay if the company received the SBIR award many years ago).

Another way of looking at is as follows:

  • Phase I = Feasibility Study
  • Phase II = Trial your Solution with the Air Force
  • Phase III = Sole-Source Government Purchase

Phase III refers to work that derives from, extends, or completes an effort made under prior SBIR/STTR funding agreements, but is funded by sources other than the SBIR/STTR program. Once a company has received a Phase I or II award, sole-source Phase III awards may be made to the company, since competition requirements were satisfied under Phase I and II.

Student Teams and Researchers

Don't have a product yet, but have a promising idea or technology? We still want to work with you! The pathway to do this is through our 'Open Topic' Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) topic.


If you are an investor or other government stakeholder interested in working with one of our awardees, please review our portfolio companies here. They may be eligible for 1:1 private investor matching or 4:1 government customer matching.

Review our archived SBIR resources here.

Want to Offer your Products/Services to Phase I SBIR Companies?

We want to give those companies the greatest possible chances for success. One way we can do that is by making them aware of the full suite of services and tools that are available to help them on their journey (both free and paid). We want to do this in the most ethical way possible (without appearing to endorse any one product, service or brand), so we created this form to allow any organization to offer up their services. Additionally, if you would like to offer deals and perks to these companies (cloud credits, trial platform access, etc.), you can specify that in this form as well.

If interested, please fill out THIS FORM.