The Air Force is working to develop a faster and smarter strategy in technology investments and partnerships with new and non-traditional entrants to the defense space. In order to boost the U.S. competitive advantage in technology, this new process aims to make the Air Force an inspiration and early adopter of cutting-edge technologies from companies of all shapes and sizes. Recognizing that slow and restrictive business practices have caused us to miss out on commercial innovations as they enter the marketplace, we have strived to simplify and expedite paperwork, and broaden the aperture to engage the technology startup ecosystem.
The revamped “Special Topics” execution of Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) funding will enable a broad outreach to learn the art of the possible in commercial technology and provide an easy connection point to try, test, and grow key emerging technologies. We are starting with a broad topic call that encourages companies to tell us how they think their technology can benefit the Air Force and DoD. This opportunity provides non-dilutive capital to validate the use of a new partner’s technology by Air Force customers, and immediately opens the door for sole-source contracts within a more than $100 billion market.
While the Air Force mission is our priority, we recognize it’s not the only priority for a growing company and we don’t want the government to be the only market. It’s important and beneficial for companies to achieve success in the commercial market as well – as they grow and thrive in a global economy to ensure continued speed of development and availability. With investment matching opportunities and informal partnerships with commercial investment, we can drive down the overall investment risk, and increase the impact and success of U.S. technology startups.