In 1982, Congress established the SBIR Program to ensure representation of small businesses in federal R&D initiatives. The program is administered in accordance with the Small Business Administration SBIR Policy Directive. The SBIR Program is managed locally by TARDEC's NAC as one of the U.S. Army's participating organizations. The SBIR Program's goal is to tap into the innovation and creativity of small businesses to help meet TARDEC's R&D objectives and to develop technologies, products and software that can be commercialized through sales in the private sector or to the government.
TARDEC scientists and engineers develop topics that address technology needs. Topics go through a rigorous review process beginning at the local command and concluding with a final selection board at Department of Defense (DOD) level. Topics are posted on DOD's Web site at: http://www.acq.osd.mil/osbp/sbir/.
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Phase I - Feasibility Study
Phase I projects are competitively selected from proposals submitted against the topics. Once the proposals are received, they go through an evaluation and selection process to determine the best and most innovative projects. One in 10 quality proposals are awarded a Phase I contract. Phase I is a feasibility study in which a small business will receive up to $70,000 for a 6-month project to demonstrate the selected concept's scientific, technical and commercial feasibility. An option is available for up to $50,000 for interim activities between Phase I and Phase II, if a project is selected to receive a Phase II award.
Phase II - Development
Successful Phase I projects are invited to participate in the SBIR Program's next phase. Phase II represents a major R&D effort, culminating in a deliverable prototype. The small business will receive up to $730,000 over a 2-year period to develop a technology, product or software that addresses specific TARDEC and Army requirements, but also has potential for commercialization. All qualified Phase I efforts are invited to participate in a Phase II project. Approximately 50 percent of reviewed projects are selected and funded for Phase II awards.
Phase III - Commercialization
Commercialization is the ultimate goal of every SBIR effort. While no SBIR funding is available in Phase III, private sector funding is pursued to commercialize Phase II projects, or a federal agency may fund Phase III activities to enable its own application of the innovation. Phase III SBIR contracts do not require competition nor is a justification and approval required for sole source procurement. As early as Phase I, the SBIR Program provides two additional incentives to build strategic partners to Phase III investment and marketing.
Phase I firms attracting outside investors that will match Phase II SBIR funds are provided an accelerated Phase II process, including evaluation and award. Matching rates are 4:1 for new firms and 1:1 previous Phase II awardees.
Commercialization Pilot Program (CPP)
The U.S. Army has established its new SBIR CPP in response to the 2006 National Defense Authorization Act. The purpose is to increase SBIR technology transition and commercialization success. The Army will:
Identify and focus on a set of ongoing SBIR Phase II participants for inclusion in the CPP.
Determine the amount of additional funding from this fiscal year's anticipated $15 million CPP allocation to support the selected participants' commercialization plans developed under the CPP.
Through the SBIR Program, the CPP will help accelerate much needed technology for Solider equipment fielding. These enhanced capabilities will also benefit the Nation through stimulated technological innovation, improved manufacturing capability and increased competition, productivity and economic growth.