Well, the DoD is certainly trying to get companies to participate in their SBIR programs with their AFWERX program and the Army’s new “surprise us” open topics with 90 day performance periods. But navigating DSIP is never fun, and frankly sometimes it seems to be designed to be almost as difficult as possible. But maybe that’s just me.
There is, however, an issue that is really, really important, especially with the DoD, and that’s Technical Data Rights. With the NSF and other agencies, you own the stuff, the government’s march-in rights have never been exercised that anyone “in the know” knows about, and you don’t have to do anything special to get that protection. And if you are building on work you’ve previously done, you don’t have to do anything special – they respect the ownership rights of work funded privately or funded by other agencies.
But that is NOT true with the DoD. With the DoD, you MUST declare UP FRONT, if you are building on or leveraging any other work. And if you don’t declare it up front…. well it seems to imply that they claim unlimited rights to it. Okay, I know some people might dispute that, but legal stuff is legal stuff, so don’t get caught without declaring! Oh, and if you send anything to them (like software or technical data), you’d better LABEL it with a special label claiming those rights, every time you do.
So, this matters. And the instructions the DoD provides? They send you to the DFAR (Defense Federal Acquisition Register). If you want to scramble your brain, feel free to read even 1 page of the DFAR or the related Letter from Office of the Under Secretary of Defense which helpfully refers to somewhat improved SBIR rights as a “deviation”!
Here are a couple of suggestions that might be more helpful.
If you want more in depth help, either a proposal review or help developing your proposal, you can apply for a spot in our one-on-one VentureWrench SBIR Coaching after you’ve gone through the course. Email us at venturewrenchcommunity [at] gmail.com with questions.
And if you need help with any part of your SBIR process – proposal (Phase I or II), TABA, proposal management, or contract finalization, just email us at venturewrenchcommunity [at] gmail.com with questions.
Don’t forget, if you need more help, check out our online course, Develop a Winning SBIR Strategy, and don’t forget your free guide below!