Are you a startup looking for funding for your product or service? Do you want to work with at least one other partner, but can’t find anyone who shares your vision? The AFWERX Air Force wants entrepreneurs and early-stage startups who are creating new technologies and products. The Open Topic program allows innovative U.S. companies to provide practical solutions through their commercial products and services while providing the Air Force with a competitive advantage in its missions.
Whether you are a startup that just received funding or a startup that just decided to go after your first customer and grow your revenue — you want to make sure you don’t fall flat on your face. The AFWERX Air Force open topic SBIR/STTR program is the key to the success of your new venture!
#1: The Open Topic is one of the best ways to get your foot in the DoD door.
AFWERX is a bridge between the DoD and the world of innovation. While the government used to be a difficult customer to engage with, programs like AFWERX are making it easier to establish your company as a dual-use technology business. The SBIR/STTR program has certainly grown in popularity over the last couple of years, making it more competitive. The Open Topic, however, gives companies a chance to propose their own solutions.
Specific topic solicitations occur more frequently, with about three submission cycles every year. These solicitations include topics determined by the Air Force that seek an innovative solution to a specific defense problem. While these are more typical in the SBIR/STTR programs, specific topics also can be more difficult to win because companies must fit their technology to a specific problem already outlined by the Air Force.
The Open Topic solicitations, however, look for non-defense commercial solutions that can be adapted to meet an Air Force need outlined by the small business (with support from AF through MOUs and LOSs). While less frequent than specific topic solicitations, we highlight the Open Topic as the best SBIR/STTR opportunity because it gives businesses a chance to tell the Air Force why their tech is needed, instead of the other way around. It gives more responsibility and individuality to small businesses and is the time for companies to really show off their technological solutions and capabilities.
#2: Reach engaged stakeholders faster.
Finding an early adopter for your new technology is one of the hardest steps in the startup life cycle. By engaging in the Open Topic, companies are able to speak to and connect with potential Air Force customers who are excited and motivated to learn about your tech and see it succeed, since you are offering a solution to their area of expertise.
How can you engage with potential Department of Air Force stakeholders? Utilize your network, particularly anyone you know who has served in the military. It is likely that they know someone who is involved in your identified area and can connect you with end-users who will support your technology. The SBIR/STTR program was also designed to grow alongside the companies it funds, so there is continued potential for growth and bigger funding opportunities for your company as it progresses from the Phase 1 Research & Development stage to Phase 2 and beyond.
#3: Open to anyone.
As long as you are a U.S based small business (500 employees or less) primarily focused on Research and Development, you are most likely eligible to submit your tech for potential DoD funding. The Open Topic was created so that any company could provide solutions to any Air Force problem.
#4: An Open Topic contract has major growth potential.
The SBIR/STTR program was also designed to grow alongside the companies it funds, so there is continued potential for growth and bigger funding opportunities for your company as it progresses from the Phase 1 Research & Development stage to Phase 2 and beyond. Companies that have worked with The Outpost to engage with Open Topic opportunities have gone on to win nearly $16 million in federal contracts and seen huge commercial success.
How to Win Funding from the Open Topic
As you can see, the Open Topic opportunity is one of the best ways to get your foot into the Air Force’s door. The Air Force is serious about partnerships and wants your help to develop technology that addresses important national security problems. The Open Topic program allows innovative U.S. companies to provide practical solutions through their commercial products and services while providing the Air Force with a competitive advantage in its missions.
The Outpost has helped clients win over $250M in non-dilutive funding and contract awards in just the past two years, as well as secured over 100 signed MOUs. Your company could be the next to win big from the Open Topic solicitation and beyond.
The Outpost can help you submit a proposal to the AF Open Topic with help from contracting experts, including the pioneers of AFWERX and SpaceWERX. Contact us today to get started!