Main Street Monday – NASA Supports Small Businesses to Innovate for Space Exploration

June 13, 2022

Delaney Sexton
Contributing Editor

Main Street Monday – NASA Supports Small Businesses to Innovate for Space Exploration

“NASA is working on ambitious, groundbreaking missions that require innovative solutions from a variety of sources – especially our small businesses,” says NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy. “Small businesses have the creative edge and expertise needed to help our agency solve our common and complex challenges, and they are crucial to maintaining NASA’s leadership in space. The SBIR program is one of the key ways we do that as well as creating jobs in a growing, sustainable space economy.”

Hundreds of small businesses were selected to develop technology for future space exploration under NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer program. $50 million will be awarded to 257 small businesses and 41 research institutions in the first round of funding for technology development. Each proposal team is receiving $150,000 to establish the merit and feasibility of their innovations.

Award recipients were determined based on their technical merit and commercial potential. About 30% of the awards are going to first-time NASA recipients within the Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer Program, and almost a quarter of the companies selected by NASA are women-owned, veteran-owned, disadvantaged, and/or HUBZone small businesses.

Companies may submit proposals for Phase II funding ($850,000) to develop a prototype based on their progress during the first phase.

“Finding and building a diverse community of entrepreneurs is a central part of our program’s outreach, and the efforts to reach them can start even before Phase I,” says Gynelle Steele, deputy program executive for NASA’s SBIR/STTR program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “For example, working in partnership with NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project, we started offering M-STTR planning grants last year, which incentivized partnerships between MSIs (Minority Serving Institutions) and small businesses and prepared them to submit a STTR Phase I proposal in 2022.”

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