Congress established the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program in 1982 to provide opportunities for small businesses to participate in Federal Government-sponsored research and development (R&D). The goals of the SBIR Program are to: stimulate technological innovation; use small business to meet federal R&D needs; foster and encourage participation by socially and economically disadvantaged small business concerns (SBCs) and by SBCs that are at least 51 percent owned and controlled by women; and increase private-sector commercialization of innovations derived from federal R&D, thereby increasing competition, productivity, and economic growth.
Congress established the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) pilot program in 1992 to stimulate a partnership of ideas and technologies between innovative SBCs and research institutions through federally funded research or research and development (R/R&D). STTR is a vehicle for moving ideas from our Nation's research institutions to the market, where they can benefit both private-sector and military customers.
The SBIR and STTR programs are composed of the following three phases.
Phase I involves a Department of Defense (DoD) program announcement that seeks contract proposals to conduct feasibility-related experimental or theoretical research and development projects related to the agency’s mission. These projects, as defined by agency topics contained in a program announcement, may be general or narrow in scope, depending on the needs of the agency. The object of this phase is to determine the scientific and technical merit and feasibility of the proposed effort and the quality of performance of the SBC with a relatively small agency investment before consideration of further support in Phase II.
(1) Several different proposed solutions to a given problem may be funded.
(2) Proposals will be evaluated on a competitive basis using the criteria published in the DoD program announcement. Considerations may also include program balance with respect to market or technological risk or critical agency requirements.
Phase II continues the research/research and development effort from the completed Phase I. The DoD does not issue separate SBIR or STTR program announcements for Phase II. All Phase I awardees for a given topic will receive notice of when to submit a Phase II proposal. The agency must base its decision upon the results of work performed under the Phase I award and the scientific and technical merit, and commercial potential of the Phase II proposal. Phase II awards may not necessarily complete the total research and development that may be required to satisfy commercial or agency needs beyond the SBIR or STTR Program. The Government is not obligated to fund any specific Phase II proposal.
Phase III refers to work that derives from, extends, or completes an effort made under prior SBIR or STTR funding agreements, but is funded by sources other than the SBIR or STTR Programs. Phase III work is typically oriented towards commercialization of SBIR- or STTR-funded research or technology.
DARPA issues topics through the DoD SBIR and STTR program announcements.
Review complete eligibility requirements at SBIR Policy Directive – Chapter 6: Eligibility and Application (Proposal) Requirements
Review complete eligibility requirements at STTR Policy Directive – Chapter 6: Eligibility and Application (Proposal) Requirements
For SBA’s Guide to SBIR/STTR Program Eligibility, please search for SBIR Eligibility at https://www.sbir.gov/ (You must use the search function on the top right had side of the page.)
DARPA participates in three SBIR announcements and one STTR announcement per year. Review the current and past announcements at https://sbir.defensebusiness.org to identify topics of interest. On the announcement page you will find the announcement instructions and topics for each DoD Component. Use the topic search to filter by component and search by keyword. Be sure to review both the DoD Announcement Instructions and the DARPA-specific Instructions.
During the announcement period, communication between small businesses and topic authors is highly encouraged. During the pre-release period, you may have direct communication with a topic author to ask technical questions about his or her topic. Topic author names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses are listed within each topic. For reasons of competitive fairness, direct communication between proposers and topic authors is not allowed during the open announcement period when DoD is receiving proposals. However, proposers may still submit written questions about announcement topics through the SBIR/STTR Interactive Topic Information System (SITIS). In SITIS, the questioner and respondent are anonymous and all questions and answers are posted electronically for general viewing until the announcement closes. All proposers are advised to monitor SITIS during the open announcement period for questions and answers and other significant information relevant to their SBIR/STTR topics of interest.
All proposals are initially screened to determine responsiveness with submission requirements published in the DoD SBIR/STTR Program Announcement and supplemental DARPA instructions. Proposals that do not comply with the requirements are considered non-responsive and are not evaluated. Proposals that do comply with the requirements are evaluated by engineers and/or scientists to determine the most promising technical and scientific approaches.
All SBIR/STTR proposals must be prepared and submitted electronically through the DoD SBIR/STTR Electronic Submission website at https://sbir.defensebusiness.org and in accordance with the program announcement. Once you begin a Proposal Cover Sheet you may edit the Cover Sheet and proposal volumes at any time until the BAA close (or due date for the Phase II proposal). When you have completed your proposal and reviewed it, you must click "Submit Proposal". If the proposal status is “In Progress” it will not be considered submitted upon the announcement close.
For more information and additional resources, please visit http://www.acq.osd.mil/osbp/sbir/index.shtml .
DARPA administers all SBIR and STTR projects as Firm-Fixed Price, Cost Plus Fixed-Fee contracts, and on a case-by-case basis, Other Transactions for Prototype.
OTs are instruments other than contracts, grants, and cooperative agreements that are used to stimulate, support, or acquire research or prototype projects.
See Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)
Reference clause: 52.227-11
Department of Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS)
Reference clauses: 252.227-7013, 252.227-7014, 252.227-7015, 252.227-7038
For OTs, the parties are allowed flexibility to negotiate IP since Bayh-Dole does not apply. DARPA normally does not acquire IP rights that will impede commercialization of technology.
The following will apply to all projects with military or dual-use applications that develop beyond fundamental research (basic and applied research ordinarily published and shared broadly within the scientific community):
Please visit http://www.pmddtc.state.gov/regulations_laws/itar.html for more detailed information regarding ITAR/EAR requirements.
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