Topics for the Department of Defense’s SBIR 2020.1 and STTR 2020.A Broad Area Announcement will be pre-released on December 10. If your company is a interested in submitting a proposal, your first step is to send an Executive Summary of your project to the appropriate Technical Point of Contact (TPOC). You can find contact information for the relevant TPOC at the end of each topic and subtopic. Email them directly and ask:

  • Does my innovation match the goals of DOD for this topic? If not, ask if they are aware of other topics within DOD they may suggest?
  • If your topic is of interest, ask:
    • What are DOD’s priorities for this topical area (such as cost, performance specifications, size, etc.)?
    • Do you see these priorities changing in the future?
    • What are the topic’s most relevant applications for DOD (especially those that may not be obvious from the topic description)?
    • Is there an acquisition program identified for this topic?

Your Executive Summary should be no longer than one page. If you talk to the TPOC by phone (recommended), be a good listener. You want to find out the problem they are trying to solve, and ask questions about that problem. And be respectful of the time; if you requested 15 minutes, stick to 15 minutes. This outline and questions will help you prepare your Executive Summary:

  1. Problem Statement / Competition
    • What is the problem that is being addressed? (Tip: use keywords from the topic description)
    • What are the currently available solutions? What are the limitations of the solution?
    • What is the main direct competition?
  2. Technology/Innovation
    • How will your approach solve this problem? Contrast with the current solution.
    • How/why is the proposed approach innovative?
    • What is the specific product or service to be developed?
    • What technical hurdles remain to be overcome?
  3. Company/Team (include any experience with previous SBIR awards)
    • What are the origins of the company/team?
    • How many current employees (part-time and full-time)?
    • What is the revenue history, if any, for the past three years?
    • Has the team previously taken similar products/services to market?
  4. Market Opportunity, Value Proposition & Customers
    • Describe the anticipated target market or market segments—especially as it relates to DOD
    • Provide a brief profile of the potential customer at DOD
    • What customer needs will be addressed with the innovation? What is the value proposition?

Start thinking about your answers to these questions to prepare now for a winning Executive Summary.


Jerry Hollister is a BBCetc Principal Consultant