FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Oct. 24, 2012
By Eric Beidel, Office of Naval Research
ARLINGTON, Va.—The Office of Naval Research (ONR) is a supporter of small business and has goals to strengthen those ties in the coming years, officials said Oct. 24.
About 40 percent of the $1.2 billion spent on procurements by ONR last year went to the small business community, significantly exceeding the overall goal set for federal agencies, which calls for 23 percent of prime contract dollars to go to small business.
Still, officials at the 2012 ONR Naval Science and Technology Partnership Conference and ASNE Expo said they want to draw greater participation from entrepreneurs, start-ups and other emerging entities, including companies owned by women and service-disabled veterans.
“We want to exhaust all avenues to make sure that small businesses receive a chance to participate in research, products and services opportunities,” said Brenda Pickett, associate director of small business at ONR.
Pickett and others offered tips for growing the sector’s presence in the naval research opportunities by sharpening the dialogue between industry and ONR.
ONR is unique in that it encourages industry to reach out to technical points of contact before preparing or submitting white papers and full proposals, Pickett said. Companies should reach out to these experts early and keep in touch with them, she said.
Industry also can take advantage of various electronic business tools, as well as search a database at www.navysbirsearch.com to identify trends among successful proposals, said Tracy Frost, who manages the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program at ONR.
Navy research focus areas run the gamut from power and energy to autonomy and unmanned systems, and analyzing current and past investments can reveal specifics about what direction researchers are headed, Frost said.
No project is too large for smaller firms, Frost said, using the high-profile Electromagnetic Railgun program as an example. More than 40 companies received SBIR funding for work on the weapon system. An Innovative Naval Prototype initiative like that can range in cost between $20 million and $50 million and still see as much as half of the funding go to small businesses, she noted.
“We’re funding innovative and agile small businesses which have great technology that can be used in big programs,” Frost said. “A small business may not be able to do it all, but they may be able to contribute a piece.”
Entities also may find that multiple ONR departments are interested in what they have to offer. The work of ONR’s nearly 2,000 scientists often intersects, and an industry product can be useful to more than one program manager.
“Look across the whole organization and search for different applications,” Frost said. “If you’re building some kind of part that goes in a truck, it might also be useful in a plane.”
For more information on small business opportunities with ONR, visit http://www.onr.navy.mil/Contracts-Grants/small-business.aspx.
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About the Office of Naval Research
The Department of the Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR) provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps’ technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 30 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and more than 900 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,065 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.