'Tech Talk' with Tracy Frost

The following is a transcript from the Office of Naval Research's online Tech Talk series. Tracy Frost, program manager for ONR's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program, ansImage - Tracy Frost, ONR SBIR Program Managerwered questions from audiences on Facebook on Oct. 27.

Frost talked about doing business with the Navy's science and technology (S&T) provider, highlighting new initiatives like the Phase II.5 program, which provides additional SBIR funding opportunities beyond Phase II. Formerly, with the Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division, sheofficially joined ONR in December 2007 after managing S&T projects as a detailee at ONR for more than six years.

Editors' Note: The following transcript includes questions submitted earlier on Facebook and Twitter, and e-mailed directly to ONR.

Event Transcript

Marilyn Erwin: Very interested in understanding the specific process for securing Phase II.5 programs.

Brian Sjoberg: Are there any specific areas we should concentrate our proposal submissions?

Edmond Dougherty: Do you think there will ever be a subdivision of the SBIRs for very small companies? According to the DoD you can have hundreds of employees and still be a small business. Our company has high ambitions and great skills.. but we have just a handful of people and it is difficult to compete with companies that are so much larger.

Edmond Dougherty: We are just completing a Phase I SBIR, and as part of the final report, it appears that we need a "transition plan". As we are somewhat outsiders we really don't know much about transitioning technology within the DoD. How can we get smart on this fast?

Edmond Dougherty: We feel we have a lot of good ideas, and as each SBIR solicitation is published we dig though the topics hoping for matches. This is hit or miss. Is there some kind of SBIR "suggestion box" where we can actually suggest topics?

Bobbi Merenda: Question: We were awarded Phase I and will be submitting our 3rd report next week. How do we bridge to Phase II?

Lisa Boyd Lawson: Our R&D company was started 12 years ago, and we have successfully been awarded numerous Phase I and Phase II awards. Now we would like more information on your new Phase II.5 program. When will this be published and available for small businesses to review?

Bob Wallace: I have participated in underwater explorations around the world, publishing papers and writing science articles. I am a scientist, author and photo/journalist. I have photographed marine life at various depths, mostly at night. A few of the animals still remain unidentified. I am also a teacher at Miami-Dade College, School of Justice. How can I use these unusual and beautiful photographs and my writing skills?

ONR: In advance of the event, many of you have requested information about ONR's new Phase II.5 program. Tracy will take your questions shortly, but in the meantime, you can review a diagram/flowchart of ONR's updated SBIR award structure online at http://www.onr.navy.mil/Science-Technology/Directorates/Transition/SBIR-STTR.aspx

ONR: Good morning! Thanks for joining us for ONR's “Tech Talk” with Tracy Frost and Lore-Anne Ponirakis of ONR's SBIR/STTR program.s We will be taking questions on a first-come, first-served basis. Please post your questions below and remember to refresh your browser periodically to follow along in real time.

Stuart Aldridge: ‎1. Your provided diagram indicates Phase I awards of 80K+70K similar to NAVAIR. Is ONR going to that level of support? 2. Your diagram also shows several avenues in the Phase II.5 realm. How will this play with NAVSEA's APB process and the Navy's CPP program?

ONR: Tracy and Lore-Anne, right off the bat, we've been getting some questions about the new SBIR Phase II.5 process. Before we start taking questions, can you speak briefly about this new process?

Bob Wallace: I'm standing by. Bob Wallace

Bob Wallace: I am a pilot and feel like I am announcing in the blind. Hello Tracy.

Bob Wallace: Is Maggie, Jerry, Michael or Elizabeth there? Bob

Tracy: ONR, as many of you know, sponsors the foundational science and technology research for future naval capabilities. ONR takes science up to a technology readiness level, or TRL, of six. At that point, the technology should be mature enough for government acquisition to integrate into their ongoing programs of record, or PORs.

Tracy: The new Phase II.5 process aims to help small businesses to navigate through this transition process. It provides three different paths to obtain additional funding through cost-matching and technology transition agreements, or TTAs.

Tracy: Today, we posted a flowchart/diagram of the updated ONR SBIR award structure, including the Phase II.5 program. I would be happy to answer any specific questions about the program that our audience might have.

ONR: OK, great! Just for reference, that diagram is available online at http://www.onr.navy.mil/Science-Technology/Directorates/Transition/SBIR-STTR.aspx

ONR: Our first question from Marilyn Erwin asks about securing Phase II.5 programs. That's a broad question, but can we provide some guidance for her?

Elisabeth Dunn Monroe: It looks like in lieu of cost matching, for the CD type of Phase II.5, a TTA is require. Could you explain what is contained in that type of agreement?

Tracy: They typically require a combination of a technology transition plan (TTP), a technology transition agreement (TTA) and/or cost-matching. Typically, an ONR program officer signs a TTP acknowledging a current naval need. The TTA is then signed by an acquisition program manager to show intent to fund the technolog...y's continued development and to insert the ready, capable, proven technology into the acquisition community.

ONR: Thanks. We'll take the next question from Brian Sjoberg.

Barry Doust: Hi Tracy - any thoughts on where the SBIR Commercialization Pilot Program fits in with all of this?

Tracy: Based on your company's business strategy and area of expertise, you can locate topics that might be of interest to the Navy through our topic solicitations, which are posted on www.dodsbir.net. You can also review the Science & Technology Programs listed on the ONR web site for information about their specific areas of investment.

Brian Sjoberg: Thank you very much.

ONR: Thanks for joining us!

ONR: OK, thanks. Our next questions come from Edward Dougherty.

Tracy: First, there is currently no plan to subdivide SBIRs between small and very small companies. That said, you might be encouraged to know that statistically the Department of Defense awards 50 percent of SBIR contracts to businesses with fewer than 25 employees.

Hesham Fouad: Hi Tracy. Is cost-matching possible if the 3rd party funding comes from outside Navy acquisition programs? We have funding possibilities from commercial and other government agencies.

Mary Lee Carns: I want to better understand the process for consideration for PH II.5 funding. Am I correct to understand that firms with viable PH II projects are first identified internally at ONR...or the request and start of process is ONR internal. Is this correct? Should we contact our PM to begin dialogue?

Tracy: Edward, the transition plan that you reference in the final report of the Phase I SBIR should include your understanding of the discussions you've had with the ONR program officer about the direction for the technology in development. Also, you should plan to outline your strategy for continuing the technology u...p through a TRL of six. You might refer to the Navy Transition Assistance Program web site for additional guidance, model agreements and other resources: www.dawnbreaker.com/defense/navy-tap.php

Tracy: As for suggestions, I'd first offer the ONR long-range broad agency announcement as a place for submtting your ideas and proposals. You can also reach out to program officers directly to get a better sense of what ONR might be looking for in a particular technology area. I have accepted white papers in the past ...that I've passed along to program officers for their consideration. However, topics are typically generated based on an acquisition need or pull, which is one of the reasons that the Navy has the highest transition success rate across the DoD.

ONR: Next question from Bobbi Merenda.

Tracy: Phase II is an invitation-only process based on the succes of the Phase I project, continued need by the fleet and forces, and available funding.

ONR: The next question comes from Lisa Boyd Lawson, and I think we can direct her back to the web site for the flowchart/diagram of the Phase II.5 process at http://www.onr.navy.mil/Science-Technology/Directorates/Transition/SBIR-STTR.aspx

ONR: Next question from Bob Wallace.

Tracy: We fund science and technology research and development, so photojournalism typically falls outside the SBIR purview.

ONR: Next questions from Stuart Aldridge.

Marilyn Erwin: Tracy, I'm late to the meeting, but have quickly reviewed the advise provided in the responses. Thank you - this is very helpful. One last question - are Phase II.5 sole source to the contractor holding the Phase II?

Tracy: Yes, all of the Navy SYSCOMS are going to that level of support beginning with the 11.1 solicitation. The Phase II.5 award structure will replace the previously known Commercialization Pilot Program's project funding phase.

Stuart Aldridge: Thanks for the info...

ONR: Next question from Elisabeth Dunn Monroe.

Tracy: Elisabeth, you can find the TTA template under the ONR tab on the Navy SBIR site at: www.navysbir.com/phaseii.htm

ONR: Next question from E Webb Stacy.

Tracy: No, O&M funding cannot be accepted as matching funds.

ONR: And I think we've answered Barry Doust's question on the Commercialization Pilot Program, so we'll take the next question from Hesham Fouad.

Tracy: In general, we will accept funding outside Navy acquisition programs from other government agencies and industry. Just keep in mind that these programs must address an existing Navy need.

ONR: Next question from Mary Lee Carns.

Tracy: Yes, you should begin that conversation with your technical point of contact about Phase II.5 requirements.

ONR: Next question from Marilyn Erwin.

Tracy: Yes, Phase II.5 is sole source to the contractor holding the Phase II. The SBIR program allows for noncompetitive follow-on awards preceding the competitive process for Phase I.

ONR: Great! So Tracy, we know that you'll be at the upcoming ONR Naval Science & Technology Partnership Conference, Nov. 8-10, providing additional information on the new award structure at the Information Exchange -- and I see that you're giving a brief on the third day, too. Any last thoughts to leave with our audience?

Tracy: I know that for every single question about our new award structure, there might be a few more out there. We'll continue to provide information throught the Navy SBIR web site at www.navysbir.com and on the ONR web site at http://www.onr.navy.mil/Science-Technology/Directorates/Transition/SBIR-STTR.aspx.

Tracy: Thanks to everyone for participating.

ONR: Great! Thanks for joining this event. Join us at 11 a.m. ET Wednesday, Nov. 3, for a conversation with Quentin Saulter, program manager for Directed Energy in Maritime Environments.

Edmond Dougherty: Thank you Tracy. This was very interesting and informative.



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