The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program connects America’s naval departments to invaluable ideas and technologies.

Under the Department of Defense (DoD), the Navy makes funds available to small business entrepreneurs through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The Navy consists of multiple components known as System Commands or SYSCOM. These components focus on different areas of naval operations. 

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The Department of Defense (DoD) is one of 11 federal agencies tasked with deploying funds to entrepreneurs through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. But what sets the DoD apart from other government departments is the sheer reach of its funding. 

With 14 diverse components and a combined annual budget of $1.8 billion, the DoD is the most significant contributor to the federal government’s SBIR program. And the Navy is one of the department’s components, doling out contracts and netting practical military solutions from entrepreneurs. 

What is the SYSCOM SBIR?

Though the Navy is typically associated with maritime missions, it also includes both land- and aviation-based duties. It all adds to a diverse set of technological needs, which the Navy organizes as System Commands, or SYSCOMs.

Each of the Navy’s participating SYSCOM missions boasts its own SBIR budget and unique guidelines, particularly for Phase II of the programs. One of the Navy’s SYSCOMs, the Office of Naval Research (ONR), is responsible for administering the SBIR program, dividing the solicitations into groups representing the needs of each SYSCOM.

What is ONR SBIR?

Though it administers the overall efforts of the entire Navy SBIR program, the ONR also deploys its own ONR SBIR SYSCOM topics. The overarching goal of its ONR mission is to foster, plan, facilitate, and transition scientific research with the expressed purpose of sustaining naval power into the future while preserving national security efforts.

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The SBIR program related to NAVAIR involves the R&D of projects that provide material support for aircraft and airborne weapon systems for the Navy. NAVAIR SBIR cultivates small business innovations that develop naval aviation aircraft, weapons, and systems operated by sailors and marines. This effort often takes the form of research, design, systems engineering, test and evaluation, training facilities and equipment, logistics support, and more.

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Formerly dubbed Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), this SYSCOM changed its name to reflect the emergence of cybersecurity as a vital frontline defense. NAVWAR SBIR provides the country with critical networks, sensors, and systems to connect air, surface, subsurface, space, and cyberspace military assets in the name of national security. 

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The oldest of the Navy’s SYSCOMs, NAVFAC was established in 1842 as the Bureau of Yards and Docks. Today, NAVFAC performs facilities engineering for the Navy and Marine Corps. With assistance from the entrepreneurial minds gathered through the NAVFAC SBIR program, this SYSCOM plans, builds, and maintains sustainable facilities, delivering combat base services and equipment.

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What is MCSC SBIR?

Though a critical part of the Navy, the MCSC is the acquisition authority of the Marine Corps, exercising contract and technical command for ground weapon and information technology programs. The MCSC SBIR seeks to fund new technology R&D by small businesses to equip and sustain forces with competent and cost-effective systems while assisting with the transition of new technology into all operations.

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Protecting the country from bad actors around the globe would be nearly impossible without the necessary support systems firmly in place—this is where NAVSUP steps in for the Navy. This SYSCOM makes sure the Navy and its service people have all the supplies, services, and full quality-of-life support they need to perform their duty. NAVSUP SBIR could include a diverse array of tasks, including supply chain management, transportation, food and postal services, and even the movement of household goods and personal effects.

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What is SSP SBIR?

The Strategic Systems Program Office is instrumental in producing and supporting the Navy’s arsenal of submarine-launched ballistic missiles and other strategic weapons systems. What’s more, SSP executed the Polaris Sales Agreement with the United Kingdom and developed conventional hypersonic weapons. SSP SBIR calls on a highly specialized workforce with scientific, engineering, and professional expertise.

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To learn more about the specific SBIR programs for each of the above Navy SYSCOMs, reach out to the official SBIR contacts.

The Navy SBIR awards $140,000 in Phase I, with an option for an additional $100,000. Phase I consists of a period not to exceed six months.

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Phase II awards typically range from $500,000 to $1.7 million in size, and the performance period is generally 24 months. However, other funding mechanisms are in place along with Phase II that could top off at $3.6 million. As for non-SBIR funding, that amount has no cap.

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  • All SBIR awardees must be more than 50 percent directly owned and operated by one or more U.S. citizens.
  • Applicants must be a small business located in the U.S. with no more than 500 employees, including affiliates.
  • The small business must be a for-profit business.
  • The bulk of the work must be performed by the grant recipient, although business partners are allowed, and you may contract out a minor share of the work.

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Navy SBIR topics are available for a host of SYSCOMs, with an extensive list displayed on the Navy’s official SBIR site. Some of the current open topics include Digital Firing Device for NAVAIR, Submarine Deep Escape for NAVEA, and Radar Seeker Model for Hypersonic Weapon Full Life Cycle Support for SSP.

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Can I Use TABA Funds for Navy SBIR?

Earlier in this article, we stated that Phase III of SBIR—involving commercialization—does not include federal funds. However, one of the ways small businesses can receive discretionary funding meant for commercialization is through the Technical and Business Assistance (TABA) program. TABA is a backchannel that enables federal agencies to lend a financial hand to small businesses by funding vendors to support commercialization efforts. 

For information regarding SBIR TABA, contact the Navy’s SBIR Program Management Office.

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Accounting Requirements of the Navy SBIR Program

All applications submitted to the Navy SBIR program and its SYSCOM components must include an impeccable accounting system, complete with cost data, procedures for pricing prototyping requirements, and time record keeping. Applications submitted without these tenets of an acceptable SBIR accounting system will likely fall short, as the process is highly competitive. 

Some of the specific accounting requirements for SBIR include:

  • Proper segregation of direct costs from indirect costs
  • A robust timekeeping system
  • Exclusion of unallowable costs
  • Identification of cost by contract line item
  • Accumulation of charges under general ledger control

Team 80 tasks its crew of experts to handle all of your SBIR accounting concerns, as they are well-versed in the many details and nuances of the SBIR process.Our accounting tools and systems are an invaluable resource—helping you and your team focus on developing an  innovative idea that floats to the surface in the sea of Navy SBIR applications.

Team 80 Director of Governmental Accounting Ben Smith

Ben Smith

Director of Governmental Accounting

Ben has worked in and around small businesses for most of his career. But surprisingly, his professional path started in food service as a chef, not accounting. In 2009 he opened his own catering business. The accounting duties for the catering company fell on Ben’s shoulders, and that was when he realized accounting was a much better fit! Ben is passionate about helping small business owners make their companies successful and brings a highly varied set of experiences to the table to help in this pursuit. When he’s not crunching numbers, he can be found hanging out with his wife and their Miniature Pinscher Milo or pursuing his other passions, which include skiing, windsurfing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, playing guitar, and riding dirt bikes.

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