1. Program Description
1.1 Legislative Authority and Background
The SBIR and STTR Extension Act of 2022 (Pub. L. 117-183.) amended the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 638) to extend the SBIR/STTR programs until September 30, 2025. Policy is provided by the Small Business Administration (SBA) through the combined Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs Policy Directive. The main purpose of the legislation is to stimulate technological innovation in the federal research/research and development (R/R&D) sector and increase private sector commercialization in both the SBIR and STTR programs. Accordingly, the NASA SBIR program is in a unique position to meet both goals by transforming scientific discovery and innovation to be used in NASA programs and missions as well as emphasizing private sector commercialization.
The SBIR program is Congressionally mandated and intended to support scientific excellence and technological innovation through the investment of Federal research funds to build a strong national economy by stimulating technological innovation in the private sector; strengthening the role of small businesses in meeting federal research and development needs; increasing the commercial application of federally supported research results; and fostering and encouraging participation by socially and economically disadvantaged and women-owned small businesses.
1.1.1 Due Diligence Program to Assess Security Risks
The SBIR and STTR Extension Act of 2022 requires NASA, in coordination with the SBA, to establish and implement a due diligence program to assess security risks presented by offerors seeking a Federally funded award. As noted above, the NASA SBIR/STTR Programs follow the policies and practices of the SBA SBIR/STTR Policy Directive. Revisions to the Policy Directive are in effect as of May 3, 2023 and the Federal Register Notice is available at: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2023/04/03/2023-06870/small-business-innovation-researchprogram-and-small-business-technology-transfer-program-policy. This revision is incorporated into this solicitation, including Appendix III, “Disclosures of Foreign Affiliations or Relationships to Foreign Countries” as reflected in the Disclosures of Foreign Affiliations or Relationships to Foreign Countries form (see section 2.3.1).
In accordance with Section 4 of the SBIR and STTR Extension Act of 2022, NASA will review all proposals submitted in response to this solicitation to assess security risks presented by offerors seeking an SBIR or STTR award. NASA will use the information provided by the offeror in response to the Disclosures of Foreign Affiliations or Relationships to Foreign Countries form and the proposal to conduct a risk-based due diligence review on the cybersecurity practices, patent analysis, employee analysis, and foreign ownership of a small business concern, including the financial ties and obligations (which shall include surety, equity, and debt obligations) of the offeror and its employees to a foreign country, foreign person, or foreign entity. NASA will also assess proposals utilizing open-source analysis and analytical tools, for the nondisclosures of the information set forth in 15 U.S.C. § 638 (9)(g)(17).
1.2 Purpose and Priorities
The purpose of Phase II is to continue the R/R&D developed under Phase I with a goal to commercialize and bring the innovation to either Federal or commercial markets, or both, as the Phase II project is completed. Phase II will require a more comprehensive proposal, outlining the effort in detail and the commercialization strategy for the effort. NASA recognizes that Phase II awards may not be sufficient in either dollars or time for the firm to complete the total R/R&D and the commercialization activities required to bring the project results to the marketplace. Therefore, completion of the research under these circumstances may have to be carried into Post Phase II opportunities or Phase III.
This solicitation includes instructions for small business concerns (SBCs) to submit a complete Phase II proposal package to the NASA SBIR program. Furthermore, program background information, eligibility requirements for participants, and information on the three program phases are contained herein. The 2023 Phase II solicitation period for submission of complete proposal packages begins on December 18, 2023, and ends at 5 p.m. Eastern Time on February 2, 2024.
The Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) provides overall policy direction for the implementation of the NASA SBIR program. The NASA SBIR/STTR Program Management Office (PMO), hosted at the NASA Ames Research Center, operates the program in conjunction with NASA mission directorates and centers. Additionally, the NASA Shared Services Center (NSSC) provides the overall procurement management for the programs.
For this Phase II solicitation, NASA research and technology areas that were solicited at Phase I serve as the basis for the Phase II proposal. Under this solicitation, there will not be a listing of research topics/subtopics. Offerors are expected to provide proposals that are follow-on work from their 2023 Phase I award and should reference Chapter 9 of the Fiscal Year 2023 SBIR Phase I Solicitation for original subtopic information at https://sbir.nasa.gov/solicit-detail/97360.
1.3 Three-Phase Program
The NASA SBIR program is carried out in three separate phases. Only Phase II and future opportunities are described below as offerors will have already completed Phase I to submit under this solicitation. The three phases are described in detail on the NASA SBIR/STTR website: http://sbir.nasa.gov/content/nasa-sbirsttr-basics.
Phase II proposals continue the R/R&D developed under Phase I to bring the innovation closer to transition into a NASA program or mission and/or commercialization of the innovation in the marketplace. Phase II will require a more comprehensive proposal, outlining the proposed effort in detail and the commercialization strategy for the effort. Only firms with FY2023 Phase I awards are eligible to submit a Phase II proposal at the conclusion of that Phase I contract.
Phase II Contracts
Maximum Contract Value
Maximum Period of Performance
Post-Phase II Opportunities for Continued Technology Development
NASA recognizes that Phase I and II awards may not be sufficient in either dollars or time for the firm to complete the total R/R&D and the commercialization activities required to make the project ready for transition into NASA or the commercial marketplace. Therefore, NASA has several initiatives for supporting its small business partners beyond their Phase I and Phase II awards.
Please refer to http://sbir.nasa.gov/content/post-phase-ii-initiatives for Post Phase II eligibility, application deadlines, matching requirements, and further information.
Phase III is the commercialization of innovative technologies, products, and services resulting from either a Phase I or Phase II contract. This includes further development of technologies for transition into NASA programs, other Government agencies, or the private sector. Phase III contracts are funded from sources other than the SBIR program and may be awarded without further competition.
Please refer to https://sbir.nasa.gov/content/post-phase-ii-initiatives#Phase-III for Phase III information.
1.4 Availability of Funds
There is no commitment by NASA to fund any proposal or to make a specific number of awards and NASA may elect to make several or no awards in any specific research subtopic. The number of awards will be based on the level of appropriated funding provided to the program in FY 2024. Since this solicitation may be released prior to the passage of an appropriations act for FY 2024, enactment of continuing resolutions or an appropriations act may affect the availability or level of funding for this program and may delay the start date of Phase II contracts or impact the maximum contract value levels.
1.5 Eligibility Requirements
1.5.1 Small Business Concern (SBC)
Each Phase II offeror must submit a certification stating that it meets the size, ownership, and other requirements of the SBIR program at the time of proposal package submission, award, and at any other time set forth in SBA’s regulations at 13 CFR §§ 121.701-121.705.
1.5.2 SBC Size
A Phase II offeror, combined with its affiliates, must not have more than 500 employees.
1.5.3 SBIR Restrictions on Level of Small Business Participation
The SBC must be the primary performer of the proposed Phase II research effort. To be awarded an SBIR Phase II contract, a minimum of 50% of the research or analytical effort must be carried out by the offeror during Phase II; correspondingly, a maximum of 50% of the effort may be performed by an outside party such as consultants or subcontractors. Involvement of university, government, or other outside personnel in the planning and research stages of the project as consultants or through subcontracting arrangements is permitted and may be particularly helpful to small businesses.
1.5.4 Place of Performance and American-made Products and Equipment >
All work shall be performed in the United States. When purchasing equipment or a product under the SBIR/STTR contract, purchase only American-made items whenever possible. On rare occasions or for a unique circumstance (for example, if a supply, material, or other item or project requirement is not available in the United States), NASA may allow a particular portion of the research or work to be performed or obtained in a country outside of the United States.
Proposal packages must clearly indicate if any work will be performed outside the United States, including subcontractor performance, and justification must be provided by downloading and completing the “Request to Use a Foreign Vendor/Purchase of Items from a Foreign Vendor” form found at https://sbir.gsfc.nasa.gov/submissions/learning-support/firm-templates and while completing the budget under section 3.4. Prior to award, approval by the Contracting Officer for such specific condition(s) must be in writing.
Note: NASA will not approve purchases from or work with countries that appear on the list of Designated Countries. For reference, please see https://www.nasa.gov/oiir/export-control.
1.5.5 Principal Investigator (PI) Employment Requirement
PI shall be primarily employed with the SBC.
The offeror must certify in the proposal package that the primary employment of the PI will be with the SBC at the time of award and during the execution of the project and they will spend more than one-half of their time as an employee of the awardee or that they have requested and received a written deviation from this requirement from the Contracting Officer.
Any deviation requests will be reviewed during the negotiation of the award and either approved or declined before the final award by the Contracting Officer.
Misrepresentation of Qualifications
This shall result in the proposal package being declined or the contract terminated.
Substitution of PIs
Requires prior approval from NASA during negotiations or after award.
Note: NASA considers full-time employment to include salaried employees and employees who regularly work a 40-hour workweek. NASA considers a 19.9-hour or more workweek elsewhere to conflict with this requirement. In rare occasions, minor deviations from this requirement may be necessary; however, any minor deviation must be approved in writing prior to the award by the Contracting Officer after consultation with the NASA SBIR/STTR Program Manager.
1.5.6 Restrictions on Venture-Capital-Owned Businesses
At the current time, small businesses owned in majority part by multiple venture capital operating companies, hedge funds, or private equity firms are not eligible to submit a proposal package under this NASA SBIR Phase II solicitation.
1.5.7 Joint Ventures or Limited Partnerships
Both joint ventures and limited partnerships are permitted, provided the entity created qualifies as an SBC in accordance with the definition of an SBC here: http://sbir.nasa.gov/content/nasa-sbirsttr-program-definitions. A statement of how the workload will be distributed, managed, and charged should be included in the proposal package. See definitions for Joint Ventures along with examples at 13 CFR 121.103(h).
A copy or comprehensive summary of the joint venture agreement or partnership agreement should be included with the proposal package.
1.6 NASA Technology Available (TAV) for SBIR Use
Offerors that proposed to use technology developed by NASA (Technology Available (TAV)) under their Phase II project should plan to continue to move the technology towards commercialization after Phase II. For more information on the NASA Technology Transfer program go to http://technology.nasa.gov. Whether or not a firm proposes the use of a NASA patent or computer software within its proposed effort will not in any way be a factor in the selection for the award.
1.6.1 Use of NASA Software
If an offeror intends to use NASA software, a Software Usage Agreement (SUA), on a nonexclusive, royalty-free basis, is necessary, and the clause at 48 C.F.R. 1852.227-88, Government-Furnished Computer Software and Related Technical Data, will apply to the contract. The SUA shall be requested from the appropriate NASA Center Software Release Authority (SRA), after the contract award.
1.6.2 Use of NASA Patent
All offerors submitting a proposal package that includes the use of a NASA patent must apply for a nonexclusive, royalty-free evaluation license. After firms have identified a patent to license in the NASA patent portfolio (http://technology.nasa.gov), a link on the patent webpage (“Apply Now to License this Technology”) will direct them to NASA’s Automated Licensing System (ATLAS) to finalize their license with the appropriate field center technology transfer office. The completed evaluation license application must be provided with the proposal following the directions in section 3.4. Such grant of nonexclusive evaluation license will be set forth in the successful offeror’s SBIR contract. The evaluation license will automatically terminate at the end of the SBIR contract. License applications will be treated in accordance with Federal patent licensing regulations as provided in 37 CFR Part 404.
In addition to an evaluation license, if the proposed work includes the making, using, or selling of products or services incorporating a NASA patent, successful awardees will be given the opportunity to negotiate a nonexclusive commercialization license or, if available, an exclusive commercialization license to the NASA patent. Commercialization licenses are also provided in accordance with 37 CFR Part 404.
An SBIR awardee who has been granted a nonexclusive, royalty-free evaluation license to use a NASA patent under the SBIR award may, if available and on a noninterference basis, also have access to NASA personnel knowledgeable about the NASA patent. Licensing Executives located at the appropriate NASA field center will be available to assist awardees requesting information about a patent that was identified in the SBIR contract and, if available and on a noninterference basis, provide access to the inventor or surrogate for the purpose of knowledge transfer. Access to the inventor for the purpose of knowledge transfer will require the requestor to enter into a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) or other agreement, such as a Space Act Agreement. The awardee may be required to reimburse NASA for knowledge transfer activities.
1.7 Technical and Business Assistance (TABA)
In accordance with the Small Business Act 15 U.S.C. 631, Section 9 (q) Discretionary Technical and Business Assistance (TABA), NASA may authorize the recipient of a NASA Phase II SBIR award to purchase (up to $50,000) technical and business assistance services through one or more outside vendors. These services may, as determined appropriate, include access to a network of non-NASA scientists and engineers engaged in a wide range of technologies, assistance with product sales, intellectual property protections, market research, market validation, and development of regulatory plans and manufacturing plans, or access to technical and business literature available through online databases, for the purpose of assisting such concerns in:
- Making better technical decisions concerning such projects.
- Solving technical problems that arise during the conduct of such projects.
- Minimizing technical risks associated with such projects; or,
- Commercializing new commercial products and processes resulting from such projects, including intellectual property protections.
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.
For information on how to request TABA at Phase II, please see Section 3.4.15, Phase II Request for Use of Technical and Business Assistance Funds. Technical and business assistance does not count toward the maximum award amount of your Phase II contract. Approval of technical and business assistance is not guaranteed and is subject to review by the Contracting Officer and the SBIR/STTR Program Management Office. A description of any technical and business assistance obtained under this section, Section 3.4.15, and the benefits and results of the technical or business assistance provided will be a required deliverable of your contract.
1.8 Phase II Intern Diversity Supplement (IDS) Program
Offerors that are successful in receiving a Phase II award are eligible to apply for an intern diversity supplement to be effective only in the summer months of the second year of their Phase II project period. Instructions for requesting a diversity supplement will be provided directly to Phase II awardees prior to the application period.
The purpose of a Phase II intern diversity supplement is to improve the diversity of the research workforce by recruiting and supporting undergraduate and graduate students from groups that have been shown to be underrepresented in the U.S. science and engineering workforce.
Fostering diversity by encouraging the participation of individuals from nationally underrepresented groups in the scientific and engineering research workforce is a longstanding interest of Congress, and a key component of the NASA SBIR/STTR outreach strategy to identify, develop, support, and maintain the quality of its scientific and engineering workforce. Similarly, fostering and encouraging participation from women, socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, and other individuals in nationally underrepresented groups in the science and engineering workforce are equally critical to the success of the SBIR and STTR programs. Scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds and life experiences bring different perspectives, creativity, and individual enterprise to address complex scientific problems.
This diversity supplement is designed to provide support for research and entrepreneurial experiences for candidates whose participation will improve the SBIR/STTR program by promoting diversity in the small business community throughout the continuum from undergraduate to graduate level. Continuation of this program in the future will depend on evaluation of the career outcomes of the supported individuals as well as continuing assessments of the diversity of the small business programs by the U.S. Small Business Administration and the National Academies.
In all cases, the proposed research experience must be an integral part of the approved ongoing research of the eligible NASA Phase II award and must have the potential to contribute to the research and entrepreneurial career development of the candidates.
SBCs are encouraged to identify women, individuals from nationally underrepresented groups, individuals with a commitment to diversifying the science and engineering workforce, and/or individuals meeting the SBA definition of socially and economically disadvantaged.
Members of socially disadvantaged groups as defined by Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government dated January 20, 2021, are:
- Black, Latino, Indigenous, and Native American persons, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other persons of color; members of religious minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) persons; persons with disabilities; persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality Black Americans.
An economically disadvantaged individual candidate for a diversity supplement must have:
- a net worth less than $750,000 (not including his or her primary residence and the value of the individual’s ownership interest in a socially and economically disadvantaged SBC, if any),
- an average adjusted gross income of $350,000 or less for the preceding three years, and
- the fair market value of all his or her assets (including his or her primary residence and the value of the individual’s ownership interest in a socially and economically disadvantaged SBC, if any) does not exceed $6 million.
For purposes of the diversity supplement, the definitions above apply to the individual candidates, not the SBC Phase II offeror applying for the supplement.
As part of this supplement program, Undergraduate, Baccalaureate, and Master's Degree and Graduate students who have a demonstrated interest in or desire to pursue science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) training and entrepreneurship, may participate in a Phase II research project during the summer months. This experience is separate from any requirement of the regular academic program.
The duration of the program is normally 10 weeks but could be extended with a no-cost extension request and approval from the Contracting Officer. This supplement program is limited to citizens or non-citizen nationals of the United States or individuals who have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States.
1.9 Small Business Administration (SBA) Applicant Resources
The SBA oversees the Federal SBIR and STTR programs. The SBA has resources that small businesses can take advantage of in learning about each of the programs and obtaining help in developing a completed proposal package to submit to a Federal SBIR/STTR program. Offerors are encouraged to review the information that is provided at the following links: www.sbir.gov, https://www.sba.gov/local-assistance, and https://www.sbir.gov/resources.
1.10 NASA Mentor-Protégé Program (MPP)
The purpose of the NASA Mentor-Protégé Program (MPP) is to provide incentives to NASA contractors, performing under at least one active approved subcontracting plan negotiated with NASA, to assist protégés in enhancing their capabilities to satisfy NASA and other contract and subcontract requirements. The NASA MPP established under the authority of Title 42, United States Code (U.S.C.) 2473(c)(1) and managed by the Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP), includes an Award Fee Pilot Program. Under the Award Fee Pilot Program, a mentor is eligible to receive an award fee at the end of the agreement period based upon the mentor’s performance of providing developmental assistance to an active SBIR Phase II contractor in a NASA Mentor-Protégé agreement (MPA). For more information on the Mentor-Protégé Program, please visit https://www.nasa.gov/osbp/mentor-protege-program.
1.11 Fraud, Waste and Abuse and False Statements
Fraud is described as “any false representation about a material fact or any intentional deception designed to deprive the United States unlawfully of something of value or to secure from the United States a benefit, privilege, allowance, or consideration to which an individual or business is not entitled.” The Federal Government reserves the right to decline any proposal packages that include plagiarism and false claims.
Note: Knowingly and willfully making any false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements or representations may be a felony under the Federal Criminal False Statement Act (18 U.S.C., section 1001), punishable by a fine and imprisonment of up to 5 years in prison. The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has full access to all proposal packages submitted to NASA.
Pursuant to NASA policy, any company representative who observes crime, fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement or receives an allegation of crime, fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement from a federal employee, contractor, grantee, or any other source will report such observation or allegation to the Office of Inspector General (OIG). NASA contractor employees and other individuals are also encouraged to report crime, fraud, waste, and mismanagement in NASA's programs to the OIG. The OIG offers several ways to report a complaint:
NASA OIG Hotline: 1-800-424-9183 (TDD: 1-800-535-8134)
NASA OIG Cyber Hotline: https://oig.nasa.gov/cyberhotline.html
Or by mail:
NASA Office of Inspector General
P.O. Box 23089
L'Enfant Plaza Station
Washington, DC 20026
1.12 NASA Procurement Ombudsman Program
The NASA Procurement Ombudsman Program is available under this solicitation as a procedure for addressing concerns and disagreements concerning the terms of the solicitation, the processes used for the evaluation of completed proposal packages, or any other aspect of the SBIR procurement. The clause at NASA Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Supplement (NFS) 1852.215-84 (“Ombudsman”) is incorporated into this solicitation.
The cognizant ombudsman is:
Marvin Horne, Procurement Ombudsman Office of Procurement
Offerors are advised that, in accordance with NFS 1852.215-84, the ombudsman does not participate in any way in the evaluation of proposal packages, the source selection process, or the adjudication of formal contract disputes. Therefore, before consulting with the ombudsman, offerors must first address their concerns, issues, disagreements, and/or recommendations to the Contracting Officer for resolution. Offerors are further advised that the process set forth in this solicitation provision (and described at NFS 1852.215-84) does not augment their right to file a bid protest or otherwise toll or elongate the period in which to timely file such a protest.
1.13 General Information
1.13.1 Questions About This Solicitation and Means of Contacting NASA SBIR Program
To ensure fairness, questions relating to the intent and/or content of research subtopics in this solicitation cannot be addressed during the open solicitation period. Only questions requesting clarification of the completed proposal package instructions and administrative matters will be addressed.
The cutoff date and time for receipt of Phase II solicitation questions requesting clarification of proposal package instructions and administrative matters is February 2, 2023, at 12:00 p.m. ET.
Offerors that have questions requesting clarification of proposal package instructions and administrative matters should refer to the NASA SBIR/STTR website or contact the NASA SBIR/STTR helpdesk.
- NASA SBIR/STTR website: http://sbir.nasa.gov
- Help Desk: The NASA SBIR/STTR Help Desk can answer any questions regarding clarification of completed proposal package instructions and any administrative matters. The Help Desk may be contacted by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The requestor must provide the name and telephone number of the person to contact, the organization's name and address, and the specific questions or requests.
A comprehensive list of definitions related to the programs is available at http://sbir.nasa.gov/content/nasa-sbirsttr-program-definitions. These definitions include those from the SBA SBIR/STTR programs Policy Directive as well as terms specific to NASA. Offerors are strongly encouraged to review these prior to submitting a completed proposal package.