Special SBIR Topics

About SBIR

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is a highly competitive program that encourages domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) that has the potential for commercialization. Through a competitive awards-based program, SBIR enables small businesses to explore their technological potential and provides the incentive to profit from its commercialization. By including qualified small businesses in the nation’s R&D arena, high-tech innovation is stimulated and the United States gains entrepreneurial spirit as it meets its specific research and development needs.

The special US Air Force SBIR topics (AF191-004 and 005), developed in partnership with AFRL, MD5, and AFWERX, are experiments to increase the efficiency, effectiveness, and transition rate of the SBIR program.

For the ‘Open’ Topic, led by AFWERX, companies with existing commercial products or services that may also be useful to the Air Force are invited to apply.  Several barriers to working with the Air Force have been removed or mitigated for this program, to include a shorter application process, an accelerated contract award, and a shorter period of performance. Read this one-pager to learn how your company can use the SBIR program. For a comprehensive guide on how to apply to a SBIR, review this user guide.

For more information, please read the official solicitation as well as review this example Application Pitch Deck. Have questions about ownership stakes and VC involvement, then read more here. (Summary: You can and are encouraged to apply if you have received Venture Capital).

For a sample of real Air Force end-user needs, please see this document. If you find an end-user need in the document, feel free to reference it and the ‘Need ID’ in your AF191-005 SBIR Phase I application. Note that this does NOT remove the requirement in your proposal to explain how you will explore the defense need of your solution by reaching out to specific AF end-users and customers.

Contact the AFWERX SBIR Team


Prior open topic solicitations

SBIR AF183 Special Topic Q&A session #1

SBIR AF183 Special Topic Q&A session #2