NASA has awarded $50 million in funding to hundreds of small businesses. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has selected small businesses and research institutions to develop technology to drive the future of space exploration.
NASA awards $50 million in funding to small businesses
The awards are administered by NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. The program offers start-ups early stage financing and access to a network of diverse entrepreneurs and innovators. It also gives small businesses the opportunity to partner with NASA programs and other government agencies. The scheme is designed to help participants hone business skills in addition to technical skills.
The investments span 39 states and Washington. NASA selects from 333 proposals from 257 small companies and 41 research institutions.
The technology selected for the awards spans several areas, including space technology, human exploration, and science and aviation.
Innovative solutions for space exploration
NASA investments in small businesses and research play a key role in providing the innovation needed for the agency’s development of the commercial space and technology sectors.
Pam Melroy, NASA’s deputy director, spoke about the critical role the government plays in maintaining NASA’s leadership in space exploration.
“NASA is working on ambitious, groundbreaking missions that require innovative solutions from a variety of sources, especially our small businesses.
“Small companies have the creative advantage and expertise needed to help our agency solve our common and complex challenges, and they are critical 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,” continues Melroy.
Each proposal team will receive $150,000 to determine the feasibility and merit of their innovations.
Value of partnerships for small business growth
NASA’s investment program highlights the important role small businesses play in driving innovation. It also underlines the importance of partnerships and for small businesses to find the right resources, financing, advice and support to support growth.
As Gynelle Steele, deputy program executive for NASA’s SBIR/STTR program, says, “Finding and building a diverse community of entrepreneurs is a central part of the scope of our program, and efforts to reach them can begin before Phase I begin.”
The selected proposals for Phase I will be funded on the basis of their technical merit and commercial potential. Depending on their progress during Phase I, small businesses and research institutions can submit proposals for $850,000 in Phase II funding to develop a prototype.
Nearly 25% of the companies selected for the program are small businesses owned by women, veterans, disadvantaged businesses and/or small businesses from the HUB zone. HUBZone companies are part of the HUBZone program designed to drive small business growth in historically underutilized business zones with the goal of allocating at least 3% of federal contract dollars each year to HUBZone certified companies.
When selecting proposals from minority-owned small businesses, the NASA investment program emphasizes the importance of minority-owned businesses and how organizations continue to support them.
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