STTR Open Topics


21.A Application Closed

  • 21.B Application Pre-Release April 21

Commercializing Research

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.

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. Different from 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.

Not affiliated with a research institution? Check out the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Open Topic.

Man conducts hypersonic research

How it Works

The following opportunities are available through AFVentures and the STTR Open Topic:

  • Many Small Bets (Phase I) "a simple, open door for innovation" - Up to $50,000 per award | 1000-1500 awards per year | Three solicitations per year
  • Some Medium Bets (Phase II) - Up to $1.5M per award matched funding encouraged | 300-500 awards per year | Live & Virtual Matching
  • A Few Big Bets (Strategic Financing) - Up to $15M (SBIR) Awards | 20+ Awards per year | 1:1:2 Program-SBIR-Private Matching | Annual Solicitation

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Steps to Get Started

1. Determine if your company is eligible

To be eligible for the STTR Open Topic program, companies must:

Review the full eligibility guidelines here.

2. Review application requirements and prepare to submit required materials

Start by applying for a Small Bet (Phase I SBIR contract) on the Defense SBIR/STTR Innovation Portal (DSIP). The application materials will be released during the next application cycle. Here is a walkthrough of this DSIP application portal along with a guide to contacting Air Force SMEs with questions on specific topics or focus areas.

You can also review additional application resources here.

3. If selected for a Phase I contract, find an Air Force customer

To be able to apply for a Medium Bet (Phase II), you must locate an Air Force customer and have them sign a customer memorandum signifying their intention to work with your company.

To assist in the customer discovery process, we've collected AFVentures Technology Focus Areas and host AFWERX events like Spark Colliders and AFWERX Fusion for you to connect with government stakeholders.

4. Apply for a Phase II contract

If you find a match between your product and an Air Force end-user, you can apply to receive up to $3 million for a trial period of your solution with your Air Force user.

5. Progress to contract with any U.S. Federal Government Agency

After the trial, you are eligible for a contract that doesn't require additional competition with any agency in the U.S. Federal Government. These contracts move beyond the SBIR Open Topic process and are not executed by AFWERX.

Questions? Contact Us

If you have any questions, join us for our weekly AFWERX webinars, check out our video resources, or reach out to us at