DARPA modernizes SBIR/STTR program to increase award opportunities

ARLINGTON, Va.The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is now planning on releasing Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) opportunities on an out-of-cycle basis, separate from the three pre-determined announcements traditionally issued directly through the Department of Defense (DoD). The change is expected to reduce the overall time from opportunity announcement to contract award.

Under the terms of the pilot program, DARPA will institute timesaving measures to speed program integration, such as Direct to Phase II authority, which allows the agency to bypass Phase I research requirements once performers provide satisfactory documentation of feasibility, and/or proof of scientific merit, technical merit, and commercialization potential.

DARPA will also seek to identify Phase II awardees with a compelling go-to-market strategy for participation in a newly created commercialization accelerator. The DARPA accelerator will provide additional funding to employ one entrepreneur-in-residence or business development lead who will offer the awardee direct support for activities including, but not limited to, customer engagement planning, market analysis and mapping, competitive analysis, techno-economic analysis, IP securement strategy development, and financial plan creation.

“It’s essential to change our acquisition practices to mirror the commercial marketplace if we hope to attract revolutionary companies that normally avoid working with the federal government,” says Dr. Steven Walker, director of DARPA. “This move will provide DARPA the flexibility to operate at a much faster pace than traditional SBIR/STTR contracting cycles have historically allowed.”

Full details regarding DARPA’s SBIR/STTR programs and associated Broad Agency Announcements are available at: https://www.darpa.mil/work-with-us/for-small-businesses.

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