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Open Call for Innovative Defense-Related Dual-Purpose Technologies/Solutions with a Clear Air Force Stakeholder Need



OBJECTIVE: This is an AF Special Topic in partnership with AFWERX, please see the above AF Special Topic instructions for further details. A Phase I award will be completed over 3 months with a maximum award of $75K and a Phase II may be awarded for a maximum period of 15 month and $750K. The objective of this topic is to explore Innovative Defense-Related Dual-Purpose Technologies that may not be covered by any other specific SBIR topic and thus to explore options for solutions that may fall outside the Air Force’s current fields of focus but that may be useful to the US Air Force. This topic will reach companies that can complete a feasibility study and prototype validated concepts in accelerated Phase I and II schedules. 

DESCRIPTION: The Air Force is a large and complex organizations that consists of many functions that have similar counterparts in the commercial sector. We are interested in exploring technological areas and solutions that have proven and demonstrated their value and commercial potential in the non-defense commercial sector to see if they have applications for an Air Force problem (i.e. Dual-Purpose Technologies/Solutions). We recognize that it is impossible to cover every technological area with the SBIR topics, thus this topic is intended to be a call for open ideas and technologies that cover topics that may not be currently listed (i.e. the unknown-unknown). It is important that any potential solutions have a high probability of keeping pace with the technological change and thus should be closely tied to commercial technologies and solutions that will help support the development of the solution. This topic is meant for innovative non-defense commercial solutions to be adapted in innovative ways to meet DoD stakeholders’ needs in a short timeframe and at a low cost. Solutions for this topic should be focused on technical feasibility, financial sustainability and defense need. The proposed technical feasibility should be minimal technical risk to the overall solution. The best solutions will have demonstrated technical feasibility by showing the solution being used broadly by other customers, especially in the non-defense space. If the solution has not demonstrated technical feasibility in the non-defense space, the offeror(s) may provide alternative evidence to indicate technical feasibility such as initial lab tests, use of the product with defense customers and other forms of evidence. The offeror(s) should demonstrate financial sustainability of their proposed solutions. The best solutions will demonstrate this by sales of the solution to non-defense clients and other sources of private investment (i.e. venture capital). If the solution has not demonstrated financial sustainability by non-defense sales or private investment, the offeror(s) may provide other evidence of financial sustainability such as other governmental aid, sales to defense customers, and other forms of evidence that help explain the financial sustainability. The offeror(s) should demonstrate that they have an understanding of the fit between their solution and defense stakeholders. The best solutions will demonstrate this with documentation (i.e. a signed memo) from a specific, empowered stakeholder(s) in the USAF who is ready and willing to participate in the trial of the prototype solution. Short of this, the offeror(s) may provide an indication of a defense ‘need’ by evidence of preliminary discussions with USAF stakeholders, a clear description of potential USAF stakeholders that would need to use the solution or other forms of evidence to help explain a clear defense need. The best solutions will accomplish all three focus areas to a high level. Demonstrations are sought more than explanations (i.e. show not tell), about how the solution meets these areas. 

PHASE I: Conduct a feasibility study to determine the effectiveness of existing (i.e. commercial) and upcoming (i.e. products expected to be released soon) solution(s) for one or multiple of the Air Force problems. This feasibility study should directly address: 1. Which problem area(s) are being addressed by the solutions 2. How they will apply to the US Government’s needs 3. The breadth of applicability of the solution(s) to the US Government 4. Give examples of which government customers would likely be able to utilize the solution(s) 5. The solution(s) should also be evaluated for cost and feasibility of being integrated with current and future complementary solutions 6. How the solution(s) will be able to address potential future changes in the specific technology area 7. The potential to keep pace with technological change due to things such as other non-DoD applications and customer bases for the solution(s) The funds obligated on the resulting Phase I SBIR contracts are to be used for the sole purpose of conducting a thorough feasibility study using scientific experiments, laboratory studies, commercial research and interviews. Prototypes may be developed with SBIR funds during Phase I studies to better address the risks and potential payoffs in innovative technologies. 

PHASE II: Develop, install, integrate and demonstrate a prototype system determined to be the most feasible solution during the Phase I feasibility study. This demonstration should focus specifically on: 1. A clear and specific government customer that can immediately utilize the solution 2. How the solution differs from a commercial offering to solve the DoD need (i.e. how has it been modified) 3. How the solution can integrate with other current and potential future solutions 4. How the solution can be sustainable (i.e. supportability) 5. How the demonstration can be used by other DoD customers 

PHASE III: The contractor will pursue commercialization of the various technologies developed in Phase II for transitioning expanded mission capability to a broad range of potential government and civilian users and alternate mission applications. 


1: FitzGerald, B., Sander, A., & Parziale, J. (2016). Future Foundry: A New Strategic Approach to Military-Technical Advantage. Retrieved June 12, 2018, from

2:  Blank, S. (2016). The Mission Model Canvas – An Adapted Business Model Canvas for Mission-Driven Organizations. Retrieved June 12, 2018, from

3:  US Department of Defense. (2018). 2018 National Defense Strategy of the United States Summary, 11. Retrieved from

KEYWORDS: Open, Other, Disruptive, Radical, Dual-Use, Commercial 


Chris Benson 

(410) 474-8369 

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