NASA SBIR/STTR 2020 Program Solicitation Details | Noteworthy Changes

Noteworthy Changes

Research Topics for SBIR and STTR

The STTR subtopics will appear in an integrated list with the SBIR subtopics again this year. They will be clearly marked as STTR subtopics so that offerors will know that the additional Research Institution (RI) partnership is required before submitting a proposal. This will assist Firms in seeing related subtopics across both programs.

Updated Certifications

The certifications collected at time of proposal, time of award, and during the lifecycle have been revised to match those required in the latest SBIR and STTR Policy Directives located at https://www.sbir.gov/. These certifications will look similar to those you may have seen in the past from NASA’s SBIR and STTR programs, but with some updated language. You will see one set of certifications twice. Once at time of proposal and again at time of award. The purpose of presenting these certifications at time of proposal is to speed up the award timeline by preparing you for what will be asked of your company by the Contracting Officer at time of award.

Understanding the Patent Landscape

Offerors should indicate in the proposal that a comprehensive patent review has been completed to ensure that there is no existing patent or perceived patent infringement based on the innovation proposed. The U.S. Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) has an online patent search tool that can found at https://www.uspto.gov/patents-application-process/search-patents

Suggested Page Limits

Within the technical proposal guidelines in sections 3.2.4 and 3.4.4 are suggested page limits for each part of the technical proposal. These are guidelines and are not strict requirements. Offerors are still required to meet the total page limit requirements as described within this solicitation.

Phase I STTR Pilot Purchase Card Program

NASA is considering initiating a pilot program to provide payments to Phase I STTR awardees utilizing a purchase card. The goal of the program is to reduce the time it takes to provide payments to the awardee. Offerors that are selected for an STTR Phase I award would be contacted by the NASA Shared Services Center (NSSC) and would be provided an opportunity to opt out of the Pilot Purchase Card Program. Awardees would be provided additional instructions and information during the negotiation of the contract on how to participate in the program.

Travel to the Innovation and Opportunity Conference (IOC)

NASA is implementing an additional outreach opportunity to small businesses, with the purpose of providing networking and knowledge sharing opportunities focused on the innovations being developed under the NASA SBIR/STTR program.  The Innovation and Opportunity Conference (IOC), brings together NASA and other government agency experts, small businesses, startups, research institutions and large businesses/prime contractors for a technology and commercialization event. The IOC provides opportunities for companies at every stage of maturity, from those just starting out with a great idea, to experienced innovators looking to expand and actively participate in tomorrow’s aerospace and defense industries. For more information on the IOC see https://innovation-opportunity-conference.com.

During this solicitation, Phase I and Phase II offerors may propose up to $1,500.00 for one person per firm for travel to attend the IOC tentatively scheduled for fall 2020 with location to be determined. For additional information on requesting travel funds and restrictions refer to the appropriate budget sections found in Chapter 3 of this solicitation.

Moon to Mars Campaign

Working with U.S. companies and international partners, NASA will push the boundaries of human exploration forward to the Moon and on to Mars. NASA is working to establish a permanent human presence on the Moon within the next decade to uncover new scientific discoveries and lay the foundation for private companies to build a lunar economy. Right now, NASA is taking steps to begin this next era of exploration. It all starts with delivery services to the lunar surface from U.S. companies for scientific instruments and technology demonstrations as well as a spaceship, called the Gateway, in orbit around the Moon that will support human missions to the surface with reusable lander elements for decades to come. The Gateway will, for the first time, give NASA and its partners access to more of the lunar surface than ever before, supporting both human and robotic missions. The agency’s powerful Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft will be the backbone to build the Gateway and transport astronauts to and from Earth. (See https://www.nasa.gov/topics/moon-to-mars/overview).

NASA has plans to purchase services for delivery of payloads to the Moon through the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contract. Under this subtopic, proposals may include efforts to develop payloads for flight demonstration of relevant technologies in the lunar environment. The CLPS payload accommodations will vary depending on the particular service provider and mission characteristics. Additional information on the CLPS program and providers can be found at this link: https://www.nasa.gov/content/commercial-lunar-payload-services. CLPS missions will typically carry multiple payloads for multiple customers. Smaller, simpler, and more self-sufficient payloads are more easily accommodated and would be more likely to be considered for a NASA-sponsored flight opportunity. Commercial payload delivery services may begin as early as 2020 and flight opportunities are expected to continue well into the future. In future years it is expected that larger and more complex payloads will be accommodated. Selection for award under this solicitation will not guarantee selection for a lunar flight opportunity.

Due to this emerging new commercial payload delivery service, a highlight in this year’s solicitation is that a number of the subtopics are encouraging proposers to consider the potential for developing a lunar payload as part of their technology development effort.  Where appropriate, the technology development project may consider a lunar payload as a deliverable by the end of Phase II (or perhaps in a post Phase II effort). While not all proposals from those subtopics are expected to produce a payload as their deliverable, suitable payloads which are developed may be eligible (through subsequent competitive selection) for delivery to the lunar surface at no cost. However, selection for an SBIR award will not guarantee selection for a future lunar payload flight opportunity. 

Rights in Data Developed Under SBIR Funding Agreements

SBA is adopting a 20-year protection period for appropriately marked SBIR/STTR Data and SBA intends that this much longer, finite protection period, even with the elimination of extensions to such period, will preserve the incentives for small business concerns to participate in the SBIR/STTR programs. SBA is confident that 20 years will be sufficient to provide data rights protection during the entire development and commercialization process for most technologies in most industries that participate in the SBIR/STTR programs. Additionally, the adoption of a 20-year protection period provides greater consistency with the 20-year protection period that the Government provides for patents issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. For a detailed explanation of the data rights see section 5.7 Rights in Data Developed under SBIR Funding Agreements.

Space Technology Roadmap Technology Areas (TAs) vs, the New NASA Technology Taxonomy

The 2020 NASA Technology Taxonomy is part of an evolution that began with technology roadmaps and the Technology Area Breakdown Structure (TABS) drafted in 2010, followed by updates in 2012 and 2015. The 2020 NASA Technology Taxonomy provides a structure for articulating the technology development disciplines needed to enable future space missions and support commercial air travel. The 2020 revision is comprised of 17 distinct technical discipline based Taxonomies (TX) that provide a breakdown structure for each technology area. The taxonomy uses a three-level hierarchy for grouping and organizing technology types. Level 1 represents the technology area, which is the title of that area (e.g. TX01: Propulsion Systems). Level 2 is a list of the subareas (e.g. TX01.1 Chemical Space Propulsion). Level 3 categorizes the types of technologies within the subareas (e.g. TX1.1.1 Integrated Systems and Ancillary Technologies). The taxonomy is a foundational element of NASA’s technology management process. NASA’s mission directorates reference the taxonomy to solicit proposals and to inform decisions on NASA’s technology policy, prioritization, and strategic investments.

The subtopics in this solicitation will still reference the previous Space Technology Roadmap Technology Areas (TAs) in the subtopic descriptions. They will be cross-referenced to the new Technology Taxonomy in Appendix B: SBIR/STTR and the Space Technology Roadmaps/Technology Taxonomy. The 2015 NASA Technology Roadmaps will be archived and remain accessible via their current internet address (https://www.nasa.gov/offices/oct/home/roadmaps/index.html) as well as via the new 2020 NASA Technology Taxonomy Internet page. (https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/2020_nasa_technology_taxonomy_lowres.pdf)

“Pointers” to Assist You in Finding the Appropriate Subtopic

Subtopic pointers are used to indicate subtopics that are asking for related technologies. Where applicable, these pointers will appear in the subtopic headers to assist proposers with identifying those related subtopics that potentially seek related technologies for different customers or applications. Pointers in conjunction with the focus area listings of subtopics will make it easier for proposers to find all subtopics that may be of interest.

 CCRPP Is Back For 2020

The Civilian Commercialization Readiness Pilot Program (CCRPP) is an additional funding opportunity available to small businesses, with the purpose of accelerating the transition of SBIR and STTR funded technologies to commercialization. The funding is a combination of additional SBIR/STTR Program investment and NASA or non-NASA entity investment. The program will match between $500,000 and $1 million of external investment. The primary objective of the NASA CCRPP is an infusion or commercialization, not an incremental improvement in technology maturation alone. Technology maturation without infusion or commercialization will not be accepted for CCRPP. For additional information, please see https://sbir.nasa.gov/content/post-phase-ii-initiatives#CCRPP.