The SBTC last month sent out a request to all SBIR winning companies to take part in a survey to determine what are the biggest obstacles facing SBIR companies when pursuing Phase III contracts. The results of that survey show that contracting officers, for the most part, simply don’t understand or have no experience or training with the Phase III program. Nearly 30% of companies responded that a contracting officer they had dealt with had never even heard of the Phase III program. These problems are widespread across all agencies, and clearly a major training effort of contracting officers is needed.
Included in the general survey were questions specifically for companies that had won Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) awards, which is a new commercialization program at the DOD, created in 2011 with input from the SBTC. The results of this survey show the RIF program to already be a remarkable success, with over 90% of respondents claiming that the funds received from this program did help their company grow.
We have presented these results to the DOD Office of Small Business Program, the White House, and Congress, and there is agreement that training and outreach for contracting officers and PEOs is needed. We will continue use this important data in future advocacy efforts, and we hope that these results clearly communicate to government officials the severity of the problems and obstacles facing small businesses that are trying to get commercialization funding.