If you’re like me, COVID-19 has ignited an intense motivation to cut through the chaos and drive impact in the fight against this nationwide healthcare crisis. Through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding opportunities, your company’s technology can become a part of the Air Force’s COVID-19 response. There are currently two ways to connect with the USAF on COVID-19: an Air Force Request for Information (RFI) and the well funded USAF AFWERX Direct to Phase II (D2P2) Solicitation. Also, be sure to join us on Friday, April 3rd at 10am Pacific Standard Time for a D2P2 COVID Q&A Session where we’ll be discussing these upcoming opportunities.
The Air Force Request for Information (RFI): Why You Should Apply Anyway:
The Air Force has released a Request for Information (RFI) which simply means they’re asking companies to respond with information about their COVID-19-related technology. AFWERX has asked for both industry and government responses, so we think, based on the information put out on their site, that they’re using this information to match up capabilities and Air Force warfighter needs.
Right now, its unclear what the US Air Force is planning to do with the information that they collect, but our recommendation is that you apply as it only takes a few minutes. The reason we recommend submitting is that RFIs often lead to solicitations or Requests for Proposals (RFPs). A Request for Proposal means that the Air Force will be awarding funded contracts with industry to support the COVID response.
Additional streamlining to acquisition regulations continue to pour out which allows the government increased flexibility when buying products and services. In plain language, what this means is that companies should respond to this RFI because solicitations could be more targeted and/or limited in distribution. Putting your name/capabilities into this form increases the chances you’ll hear about additional funding opportunities and/or ways to support the AF effort as a part of that limited distribution.
For companies, the way to respond to the RFI is through this google form.
For government, the way to get involved is to fill out this google form.
Current Funded Opportunities: Air Force Direct to Phase II Solicitation
As of 30 March 2020, AFWERX released a SBIR Direct to Phase II solicitation that allows companies with a potential COVID-19 related technology solution to submit a 15 page and 15 slide proposal for up to $1M in funding.
This solicitation was previously released as a wide-open call for commercial technologies that could benefit Air Force missions. Originally, the solicitation was scheduled to close in February 2020 as part of the 20.1 SBIR cycle but was canceled near the original deadline.
Yesterday, 30 March 2020, the solicitation was re-released with many of the same D2P2 aspects as before which include the wide-open call for any technology that can benefit an Air Force mission or customer. Additionally, this D2P2 included several changes due in part to the evolving concern and response to COVID-19. The Air Force has updated and leveraged this solicitation to include a request for a wide range of capabilities that can support their COVID-19 response.
What Is a Direct to Phase II (D2P2) Solicitation?
The Direct to Phase II Solicitation is an announcement of a very specific kind of SBIR opportunity. Small Businesses who already have a potential customer in the US Air Force can submit a proposal, which is comprised mainly of a 15-page Technical Volume, a 15 slide presentation deck, and a signed Memorandum of Understanding with their potential AF customer.
To submit a proposal, small businesses must be registered in all the appropriate websites. Our free guide provides a step by step walkthrough of the required registrations which include DUNS, SAM, SBIR.gov, and Dodsbirsttr.mil (also known as DSIP) websites.
The Details as of this writing (subject to changes/amendments from AFWERX):
- This solicitation has a maximum funding amount of $1M
- Requires a customer to sign an MOU
- 100-second video must be submitted with your proposal
- You must be registered on 4 different websites in order to submit your proposal. (You can grab our guide for this here)
- Proposals are due by 30 April
- 15-page technical volume and 15-page slide deck
- Submission must be made through the truly terrible government website known as DSIP (be prepared to spend lots of time on the submission)
Biggest Challenges of the D2P2 Submission:
Getting an MOU signed in the next 30 days.
In the past, this has been a strict eligibility requirement and requires you to identify and connect with a potential Air Force customer and get a signed MOU from them stating that they’re interested in using your technology. If you’re serious about a D2P2 submission, this should be your top priority. The most up to date MOU template can be found here.
100 Second Video
Make sure to include some sort of 100-second video overview in your proposal. The more professional the better, but account for the quick proposal turn around time. In our experience, the professional production timeline on the 100-second video averages 3-4 weeks, so prioritize this task early in your proposal preparation.
How to Apply:
If you’re interested in applying to the AFWERX D2P2, you must be registered in multiple sites followed by submission on the DSIP website. Grab our free guide for that here.
What technology areas are of interest?
The RFI and D2P2 language vary slightly, but here are the main categories that seem to be of interest to the Air Force:
- Combating the Spread of COVID-19 (predictive analytics, next hotspot, threat to current activities, decision support, etc.)
- Welfare of Citizens (effects to transportation, movement of people and goods, education and development, physical training, regular HR functions, job transition, etc.)
- Readiness (continuing military operations through the outbreak, coordinating with allies and partners, continuing long term projects, etc.)
- Logistics (security and protection, supply chain protection and assessment, etc.)
- Industrial Base Impacts (small businesses, payments, contracts, large system programs, protection and expansion of critical assets, etc.)
- Medical (telehealth, medical capacity and sustainment, medical supplies and equipment, etc.)
- Other (anything goes- just make the case on how your technology can benefit the Air Force response).
Want more information? Join us on Friday, April 3rd at 10am Pacific Standard Time for a D2P2 COVID Q&A Session where we’ll be discussing both of these great opportunities in detail! Click here to register!