The turn of the year always provides fresh opportunities in the world of SBIR, AFWERX, and the DoD. With three SBIR/STTR rounds coming up in the year ahead, one of which is just a month away, many are working to get their proposals ready to go. However, while many who have already achieved a phase II are looking to step out of the structured SBIR realm to pursue a phase III, others may find the STRATFI/TACFI route to be a better steppingstone for their goals.
Could this route make more sense for your company following a phase II? In this article, we will discuss the what, who, why, and how of STRATFI/TACFI in order to help those interested in the opportunity to get on the right track.
What is STRATFI/TACFI?
STRATFI/TACFI is a program offered through AFWERX, designed to “Catalyze relationships between Air Force and Space Force end-users and acquisition professionals, private-sector innovators, and investors.” It acts in a way that drives more money and research opportunity to an already achieved phase II, allowing companies that need a little more time for research and development to have the funding to do so.
This program started with STRATFI, the larger of the two, with the purpose of bridging the gap between SBIR/STTR Phase II and Phase III. TACFI rolled out for the first time in 2021 as a smaller version of STRATFI. These are the Air Force’s version of the Phase II Enhancements discussed in the SBA’s SBIR Policy Directive.
Like the traditional SBIR/STTR rounds, these opportunities award funding to tech start-ups with innovative DoD technology, however, these awards are granted with a different structure. Rather than three short rounds, as seen with the traditional SBIR Phase I and II, STRATFI/TACFI has a single rolling submission round that starts at the beginning of the year and remains open for about half of the year. In 2021, it closed at the end of June. Submissions are evaluated on a first-come first-serve basis, and if they satisfy the evaluation criteria, they are awarded in the order they were submitted until funding is used up. At this point, any remaining submissions cannot be funded in that round, and companies need to re-apply the following year.
Another significant difference between STRATFI/TACFI and the traditional SBIR/STTR rounds is the fact that STRATFI/TACFI awards funding through a match system. This means that all applicants must also have a third-party partner buy-in. Depending on which program is pursued, this match can come from a private sector source, from the Government at the federal, state, or local level, or a combination of both.
Who makes a Good Candidate for STRATFI/TACFI?
The best candidate for a STRATFI/TACFI, are companies who made progress in phase II but need more RDT&E funding to develop their product to the point that it can be scaled in a Phase III. In order to apply, you need an active DAF SBIR/STTR P2, or you must have completed one within the past three years.
Qualified candidates will need to either have or be able to achieve the minimum matching investment requirements. For TACFI, that minimum is $375K, and for STRATFI, the minimum is $3M.
In addition to the matching requirements, qualified candidates need a clear and identified end-user and customer memorandum.
Why STRATFI/TACFI Instead of Traditional SBIR Rounds?
STRATFI-TACFI is a significant time investment for those looking to apply. Not only do you need a dedicated end-user and customer willing to sign an MOU and come alongside your company to advocate on your behalf, but you also need to secure investment from a private and/or Government investor for this effort.
However, with greater investments comes greater rewards. STRATFI/TACFI provides the opportunity to achieve anywhere from $375K to , depending on which program you pursue, to your phase II effort.
How to Win
Long Capture has a high success rate for this unique type of funding. We have found that one of the most crucial aspects for these proposals is timing.
When applying for a STRATFI/TACFI, early submission is key. Funding is awarded based on first qualified submissions. Once the budget runs out, no more funds are awarded.
Therefore, if you are interested in pursuing this type of funding, it is essential to get your proposal submitted as soon as possible. Contact Long Capture today and let one of our experienced Strategists help you to achieve the funding you need to grow your company over the year ahead.
Learn more about TACFI specifically in our past blog: TACFI: What You Need to Know