Special STTR Topics


Technology advances affecting our national security continue to emerge from our university system and R&D communities. The Air Force's competitive advantage will be our collective ability to quickly identify, validate, and integrate those technologies.

First debuted in July 2019, the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program ‘Open Topic’ aims to help small businesses commercialize emerging research in partnership with a university, non-profit entrepreneurship center, or research center. In contrast to the traditional STTR program, the Open Topic is ‘open’ to any technology, customer, or application.

By streamlining the proposal process, accelerating contract award, and providing direct access to our global network of customers and capital, our STTR Open Topic provides unrivaled opportunity for small businesses to protect their IP and establish themselves in both the commercial and federal marketplace.

Similar to SBIR, STTR is a 3-phase program:

  • Phase I: Air Force customer discovery
  • Phase II: Trial your Solution with the Air Force customers found in Phase I
  • Phase III: Unrestricted Sole-Source Government Procurement

To be eligible, companies must:

  • Register appropriately in SAM (including receiving a CAGE code) & DUNS (more info available in ‘Common Application Mistakes to Avoid’ guide below)
  • Be at least 50% American-owned
  • Complete at least 40% of the proposed work
  • Partner with a university, research center, or non-profit development organization to perform at least 30% of the proposed work

Since the introduction of the SBIR Open Topic in late 2018 and the STTR Open Topic in mid-2019, we have received more than 2900 submissions, awarded more than 900 contracts worth a combined total of approximately $220 million.

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How to Get Involved

Phase I Application Resources

STTR X20.A-TCSO1 Open Topic Description Open Topic Description

Phase II Application Resources (for current Phase 1 awardees only)

STTR Phase II Description and Instructions

  • Reference the walk-through, common mistakes to avoid, sample pitch deck, eligibility guide, and video series in the ‘Phase I Application Resources’ section
  • Open Topic Description for DoD (crash course on why this program exists and how DoD Personnel can engage with it)
  • Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) Template (for AF Customers to indicate interest in your solution)
  • Milestone Template (fill this out *in addition to* the milestones in the MOU - they should be the same; this streamlines the contract award process)
  • If your Phase II (or III) customer requires you to work with classified information, please reference Classified Contracts: The Facility Clearance Process & Expectations for more on how to gain a classified contract.

Phase III Resources

Companies: One of the most valuable traits of a SBIR/STTR contract is that following your period-of-performance, AF customers can procure the solution *sole-source* (directly; without jumping through many hoops) to any agency in the US Federal Government. 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: ‘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 (e.g. the AF customer).In a sense, "Phase III" is a misnomer - it could be better described as 'Sole-Source Government purchase'. These Sole-Source Government purchases can utilize nearly any color of money (i.e. R&D, O&M, etc), there is NO limit to the awarded dollar amount, and NO time limit on when they can be enacted (i.e. it is okay if the company received the SBIR award many years ago). Once a company has received a Phase I or II award, sole-source Phase III procurements may be made in perpetuity since competition requirements were satisfied under Phase I and II.


Want to offer your Products/Services to our growing library of SBIR/STTR companies? We also offer funds matching for companies with private investors. Want to become part of our network? Complete this form and tell us about your firm!

We want to give our 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 (i.e. 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 resources to these companies (cloud credits, trial platform access, etc.), you can specify that as well.


  • Dec

    STTR 20.A Topic Pre-Release

    Use this time to ask questions of the topic sponsor
  • Jan

    STTR 20.A Applications Open

    Submit Proposal Online
  • Feb

    STTR 20.A Applications Close at 8:00 p.m. ET

    Award Announcement approx ~30-45 days after close