When the U.S. Navy needed a way to help SBIR awardees achieve commercial success, they turned to BMNT for help. The result was a new model for commercializing SBIR-funded tech.
The Small Business Innovation Research program and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program – also known as “America’s Seed Fund” – provides over $3 billion in funding to small businesses across the U.S. each year. While this funding serves as a catalyst for research and development, companies developing the nation’s most exciting technology do not always make it to market.
The U.S. Navy runs the Navy SBIR Transition Program – a vehicle for connecting SBIR/STTR-funded technologies with warfighters, government acquisition and technical personnel, prime contractors, system integrators, and other potential partners and collaborators. It needed SBIR awardees to demonstrate commercial success and raise private capital.
But too often, the companies are built for government contracts, not commercial business. They lack networks and know-how to align government-funded technology to commercial problems and use cases. This means that companies developing the nation’s most exciting technology could fail to find a commercial customer; prices will remain high for the government; and the companies will be at risk of failure without a diverse customer base.
To address the problem, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) turned to BMNT for help. Building on its successful track record with the Navy SBIR Transition Program, ONR led the new initiative and used BMNT’s enterprise accelerator, H4XLabs, to develop NAVY Launch. The 12-month program supports the ambitions of SBIR companies to expand into the private market, focusing on a transition from a project-based to a product-based mindset. This helps the nation’s brightest inventors grow their entrepreneurial expertise.
NAVY Launch was strategically designed to have two stages: educate and accelerate.
The first stage (Educate) casts a wide net, offering foundational knowledge and additional resources so companies can move at a speed that is right for their business.
The second stage (Accelerate) is a focused, intensive accelerator for a select group of 20 companies. In this stage, seasoned advisors – each with 30+ years of experience in commercial and defense markets – offer tailored guidance, coaching and mentoring the companies as they identify beachhead markets, discover new customers, pitch investors, and start making new sales.
NAVY Launch is the new model for commercializing SBIR-funded technology.
The inaugural 2022 NAVY Launch cohort saw 20 companies collectively raise more than $45 million in private investment and generate $11 million in new commercial revenue. In total, over 200 SBIR awardees have benefited from the program's workshops and advisory sessions, gaining insights into commercial markets and private funding pathways.
These companies are empowered to reach beyond government contracts. Armed with newfound knowledge and networks, they are poised to scale their businesses in the commercial sector, bringing innovative solutions to a broader market and reducing the R&D costs to the U.S. government.
Program participants have found NAVY Launch invaluable. Reflecting on the program’s impact, a participant from the Knexus Research Corp said, “I wish I had this years ago. It would have put me on a faster path to greater success.”