The SBIR Office and 711 Human Performance Wing came together to run the 18.2/18.B BAA Special Topic Focus to develop innovative concepts and prototypes for technologies that address human machine teaming for the 711 HWP intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission. As a part of the collaboration, WBI was asked to host a beta type hyper accelerator that would take companies from a SBIR Phase 1 straight to a SBIR Phase 2 application. In collaboration with The Entrepreneur’s Center, a fast paced, 10-week accelerator curriculum was custom designed to prepare all eight SBIR Special Topic Phase 1 awardees for Demo Day and a SBIR Phase 2 application in the spring of 2019. The T3 Transition Accelerator Demo Day provided an opportunity for all Phase 1 awardees to pitch the commercial and military potential of their technologies to an audience of over 150 attendees.
For 15 years, small science and tech businesses have prospered from contracts awarded by the Small Business Administration’s SBIR program. Comprised of federal agency participants, the bulk of funding comes from the Department of Defense (DoD). A whopping 50% the DoD’s $1 billion worth of awards go to companies with less than 25 employees. In fact, a third have less than ten!
But award preference isn’t limited to size, with roughly 25% of contracts going to first-time recipients and 20% going to diverse minority/women-owned companies. What’s the benefit to these new companies? Funding, obviously! Many of these businesses would be shuttered without the lucrative R&D contracts given out each year by the SBIR.
The shift in SBIR funding was most evident during the 2019 Air Force Pitch Day, where 59 small businesses promoted their tech directly to officials, resulting in 51 $158,000 contracts! The focus on these events is two-fold. Businesses avoid the three to four month process and get their contract much faster, allowing them to work with their Air Force team immediately. This, in turn, paves the way for the AF to get their product delivered to the warfighter faster. By placing the emphasis on the mission instead of the bureaucracy of funding, both sides win!
While speed is an much-desired trend among small business and the Air Force, WBI understands that the more companies pre-positioned for success, the better the outcomes for events like the Air Force Pitch Day. WBI has been partnering and creating technology accelerators long before the release of the AF Science & Tech Strategy portfolio, but with clear endorsement from Air Force leadership, the T3 Accelerator Demo Day is the starting point for a powerful, Midwestern small business ecosystem.
As Dr. Richard Joseph, Chief Scientist of the Air Force, said, “Transforming the force will require a change in mindset requiring everyone involved to stretch their thinking from what is possible to what is conceivable.” What does this mean for small businesses? It means there’s never been a better time to work with the Air Force!
The T3 Accelerator Cohort 2.0 is opening on November 1, 2019, with a Demo Day Showcase scheduled for May 8, 2020.
SBIR/STTR (Office of Small Business Programs)
Snapshot: The Small Business Innovation Research Program Awards 1000th Contract (DHS)
Snapshot: S&T’s Rapid DNA Technology Identified Victims of California Wildfire (DHS)
H.R.510 - Rapid DNA Act of 2017
AFRL leads Pro-Bowl Sprint to enhance contract award process
Air Force Pitch Day
New Air Force Science & Technology Strategy puts focus on speed
Dr. Richard J. Joseph biography (USAF)