NASA SBIR/STTR 2021 Program Solicitation Details | Notable Changes and Helpful Reminders

Notable Changes and Helpful Reminders

Important Submission Reminder

Offerors are strongly encouraged to start the submission process early in order to allow sufficient time for completing their proposal package.

Section 6.3, Deadline for Phase I Proposal Receipt, states that “A complete Phase I proposal package shall be received no later than 5:00 p.m. EST on Friday, January 8, 2021, via the NASA SBIR/STTR website (http://sbir.nasa.gov), under the Handbooks section.”

Section 6.4, Deadline for Phase II Proposal Receipt, states that “A Phase II proposal package shall be received no later than 5:00 p.m. ET the last day of the Phase I contract original period of performance via the NASA SBIR/STTR website (http://sbir.nasa.gov) under the Handbooks section.”

Section 6.5, Acknowledgment of Proposal Receipt, states that NASA will acknowledge receipt of electronically submitted proposals upon endorsement by the Small Business Official to the Small Business Official’s email address as provided on the proposal cover sheet, as well as to the user who created the proposal, if different. If a proposal acknowledgment is not received after submission, the offeror should immediately contact the NASA SBIR/STTR Helpdesk at sbir@reisystems.com.”

An offeror who waits to submit a proposal near the deadline is at risk of not completing the required uploads and endorsements of their proposal. The Electronic Handbook (EHB) will terminate any active submissions at the published deadline of 5:00 p.m. ET on Friday, January 8, 2021, for Phase I offerors or at 5:00 p.m. ET the last day of the Phase I contract original period of performance for Phase II offerors. This termination will result in the offeror receiving an error message, and any remaining parts of the proposal will not be allowed to be uploaded or completed. Failure to complete all required uploads, including endorsements, as indicated in Section 6 of this solicitation will disqualify your proposal from consideration for a Phase I or Phase II contract award.

Introducing the Updated Technical and Business Assistance (TABA)

The John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 permits SBIR and STTR Phase I and II awardees to enter into agreements with one or more vendors to provide Technical and Business Assistance (TABA). TABA allows an additional supplement to the award ($6,500 for Phase I awards and $50,000 for Phase II awards) and is aimed at improving the commercialization success of SBIR awardees. TABA may be obtained from entities such as public or private organizations, including an entity established or funded by a U.S. state that facilitates or accelerates the commercialization of technologies or assists in the creation and growth of private enterprises that are commercializing technology. TABA may include access to a network of scientists and engineers engaged in a wide range of technologies or access to technical and business literature available through online databases. This also includes product sales, intellectual property (IP) protections, market research, market validation, and development of regulatory plans and manufacturing plans.

For additional information on how to request TABA, please see sections 3.3.13 (Phase I) and 3.4.14 (Phase II), Request for Use of Technical and Business Assistance Funds.

Special Instructions for Phase II Submissions, Part 7: Commercialization and Business Planning

Offerors who submit a Phase II proposal will be required to provide a Commercialization and Business Plan, formerly known as the Commercialization Plan, and will be required to provide a minimum amount of information based on page-length requirements. See section 3.4.4, Part 7: Commercialization and Business Planning for additional information.

Firm Registrations and Certifications

NASA requires offerors to register with the Small Business Administration (SBA), register with System for Award Management (SAM) and also collects certifications from offerors at time of proposal, time of award, and during the lifecycle of the awarded project. These registrations and certifications have been included to match requirements found in the latest SBIR and STTR Policy Directives, located at https://www.sbir.gov/ and under the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR).

Offerors should review these requirements found in section “2. Registrations, Certifications and Other Proposal Information” of this solicitation in advance of submitting a proposal. Several of these registrations and certifications may take time to complete and should be completed well in advance of proposal submission.

There are two new certifications that offerors will be required to answer at the time of proposal submission. These are in section 2.3.1 FAR 52.204-24, Representation Regarding Certain Telecommunications and Video Surveillance Services or Equipment (August 2020) and 2.3.2 FAR 52.204-26 Covered Telecommunications Equipment or Services-Representation.

Many of 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 if selected for an 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 3.3.4 (Phase I) and 3.4.4 (Phase II) are suggested page limits for each part of the technical proposal to help you develop a balanced proposal. These are guidelines; they are not strict requirements. Offerors are still required to meet the total page limit requirements as described within this solicitation.

Moon to Mars Campaign

NASA’s human lunar exploration plans under the Artemis program call for sending the first woman and next man to the surface of the Moon by 2024 and establishing sustainable exploration by the end of the decade. The agency will use what we learn on the Moon to prepare for humanity's next giant leap – sending astronauts to Mars.

Working with U.S. companies and international partners, NASA will push the boundaries of human exploration forward to the Moon and on to Mars and establish a permanent human presence there within the next decade to uncover new scientific discoveries and lay the foundation for private companies to build a lunar economy.

It all starts with U.S companies delivering scientific instruments and technology demonstrations to the lunar surface, followed by a spaceship, called the Gateway, in orbit around the Moon that will support human and scientific missions, and human landers that will take astronauts to the surface of the Moon. 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.)

Note: While the program is proud to note that many of our subtopics directly or indirectly support the Moon to Mars Campaign, there are many additional technology areas in this solicitation that are of equal importance to the Agency and the Nation. These include, but are not limited to, Aeronautics, Earth and Planetary (beyond Moon and Mars) Science, Heliophysics, and Astrophysics.

Rights in Data Developed Under SBIR Funding Agreements

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has adopted 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 (SBCs) 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.P.T.O. 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) versus 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 composed of 17 distinct technical-discipline-based Taxonomies (TXs) 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. Level 2 is a list of the subareas. 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.

Effective with this solicitation, the subtopics will reference the new Technology Taxonomy in both the subtopic write-ups and also in the summary found in Appendix B: SBIR/STTR and the NASA Technology Taxonomy. The 2015 NASA Technology Roadmaps will be archived and remain accessible for reference 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 (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.

Civilian Commercialization Readiness Pilot Program (CCRPP) Is Back for 2021

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 $3 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.

Intern Supplement Pilot (at Phase II)

The NASA SBIR/STTR program is planning to pilot an initiative focused on improving the competitiveness and growing the markets of the small businesses that support the U.S. aerospace industry. The goals of this initiative include workforce development, which would be accomplished through student internships paid for by the SBIR/STTR program in support of Phase II awardees. The interns may have NASA work experience and have indicated their career goals are in line with non-Government and nonacademic careers, with an interest in entrepreneurship. Firms will have the opportunity to indicate interest as part of their 2021 SBIR/STTR Phase II proposal. The pool of interns would be provided by NASA, and firms that choose to opt in will be encouraged to support intern diversity, including military veterans.