NASA has a long history of supporting America’s entrepreneurs as they develop technologies from ideas to commercial readiness. The agency’s Small business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is furthering that legacy with 140 new Phase II awards to 127 U.S. small businesses that will help them move their innovations to market.
The awards to these small businesses, located across 34 states and Washington, D.C., total $105 million. NASA’s small business program is dedicated to finding the most useful technologies for the agency and the commercial marketplace, and sourcing those innovations from a diverse group of entrepreneurs with different backgrounds and perspectives. The companies chosen for Phase II funding include 33 women-owned, minority-owned, and veteran-owned small businesses.
The awardees all received initial SBIR Phase I contracts in 2020 to demonstrate the merits of their innovations and show how they could contribute to NASA’s efforts in human exploration, space technology, science, and aeronautics. The Phase II awards will provide them each with up to $750,000 to advance their technologies toward potential commercialization. The companies will spend up to two years developing, demonstrating, and delivering their proposed projects.
“These small businesses received Phase I awards towards the onset of the global pandemic and persevered through it to evolve promising up-and-coming technology solutions,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA’s Space technology Mission Directorate (STMD). “As the government helps get small businesses back on track, we value their commitment and dedication to supporting Nasa missions and goals.”
InnoSys Inc., a woman-owned small business in Salt Lake City, Utah, developed a concept for a camera that can operate in extremely high temperatures – perhaps even on Venus where surface temperature can reach 900 degrees Fahrenheit. Its innovation replaces glass envelopes in conventional imaging tubes with other materials, such as quartz or sapphire, that can withstand harsh environments. Beyond space mission applications, the company wants to create cameras for imaging fires or high-temperature furnaces up close, and for inspecting nuclear reactor cores.
NASA aims to help small businesses like InnoSys focus on commercialization. The program offers additional funding opportunities for small businesses if their Phase II work proves successful, helping them find customers outside the agency.