It’s been three years in the making, and now the Air Force’s AFWERX program is pronouncing they are out of startup mode. This is a continued push by the Air Force to improve and innovate encouraging more small business to engage with the military. And they are hacking the SBIR program structure to encourage more small business to test their innovations with the Air Force. If you are a company or startup under 500 employees—THIS MAY BE FOR YOU!
If you’ve not heard of the AFWERX Open Innovation solicitations, now is the time to consider. The 2020.3 call is open until October 22 with a critical blackout period beginning September 23. Unlike typical SBIR Phase 1 opportunities, the Air Force/AFWERX program uses Phase 1 as a customer discovery tool. In three solicitations, this SBIR program will award up to $50,000 for customer discovery helping small businesses connect with Air Force as a customer.
These small bets can transition into bigger awards (Up to $750K for a Phase 2) with additional funding opportunities through Strategic Financing (ALL SBIR hacks!).
Image Reference: Acquisition Talk: Can the Air Force scale small companies into a program of record? December 2019
Wisconsin companies and startups should actively consider AFWERX open calls for innovations in medical, education, manufacturing and more. With new approaches in funding comes new ideas on what is fundable. The opportunity for discovery, to network with a new customer AND with companies in your landscape might be worth the application investment including:
- 5-page technical proposal
- 15 slide pitch deck
- An investment of time to find a military customer.