Technology Today

2010 Issue 2

Small Business Innovation Research
A collaborative path for developing needed technologies

The U.S. federal government's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program represents a significant opportunity for Raytheon to work with small businesses to develop technologies for the customer, fill technology needs and gaps, and create competitive discriminators for Raytheon.

Congress established the SBIR program in 1982 to more effectively meet the nation's research and development needs by investing in small businesses to develop innovative technologies. The U.S. high-tech small business base, composed of more than 450,000 engineers and scientists, represents a major technology and business growth engine for the U.S. and a resource that Raytheon continues to effectively utilize. In so doing, we can provide more cost-effective weapon systems to the warfighter.

Figure 1. SBIR fundingIn fiscal year 2008 the government invested $2.5 billion in the SBIR program. Figure 1 shows the breakdown of the SBIR budget for FY08. This article discusses the latest advances in the SBIR program and how Raytheon is proactively engaging with small businesses and government customers to help increase the overall success of the SBIR program.

For most of the past 10 years, Raytheon has been actively involved in leveraging technology developed by small businesses via the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) SBIR and Small-business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Raytheon program managers work closely with their government counterparts to recommend ways of effectively using the SBIR Program to satisfy our shared program needs.

The formal SBIR program consists of three phases, as depicted in Figure 2. Phases I and II are formally funded from the congressionally mandated SBIR program. Federal agencies allocate 2.5 percent of their research, development, test and evaluation budget to the SBIR program and an additional 0.3 percent to the STTR program. Phase III, referred to as both "commercialization" and "transition to production," is funded utilizing non-SBIR money.

Figure 2. SBIR Phase 0 through III

Figure 2 shows a number of entry points where Raytheon becomes actively involved with a small business during SBIR development. While we have typically become involved in Phases I or II, we are increasingly focusing on being more proactive by working with our customers and small businesses in defining solicitation topics to satisfy our program and technology roadmap needs. This earlier involvement is referred to as "Phase 0."

Since the year 2000, a number of government initiatives have been instituted to increase the effectiveness of the program, especially within DoD.

  • The Navy Transition Assistance Program helps small businesses transition their technology to engineering and manufacturing development and production.
  • "Program Manager/PEO Pull" emphasizes the importance of having government program managers involved early in the process to establish a need and verify commitment.
  • "Primes' Initiative" proactively involves the prime contractor community.
  • Presidential Executive Order 13329, "Encouraging Innovation in Manufacturing," defines duties of the agencies and departments that participate in the SBIR and STTR programs.
  • Development of integrated program and technology road maps/plans between the prime contractors, their customers and small business partners.
  • The Commercialization Pilot Program (CPP) more rapidly transitions SBIR Phase II technologies into production

Leveraging SBIR technologies is one important way that Raytheon fills technology gaps identified in the technology planning process. The company's successes in transitioning technology from small businesses into programs of record came through persistence and strong partnerships with both the end customer and the small business.

Raytheon has numerous success stories of transitioning benefits derived from SBIR-developed technologies into our products where our entry into the SBIR process varied from proactively entering into Phase 0 collaboration to partnering well into Phase III. The following sampling of success stories shows the diversity of approaches for participating in the SBIR/STTR programs.

Metal Flange

Vanguard Composites: During development and qualification of Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV), Raytheon needed a metal flange to meet design requirements. Vanguard Composites developed an advanced composite material replacement part with U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) SBIR funding. The part met the demanding design requirements, and Raytheon and Vanguard entered into a Phase III contract, which enabled qualification and transition to production of the metal flange to meet EKV's deployment schedule. The SBIR-developed hardware is on all delivered product ion units.

Gun launched projectile

Versatron: A control actuator system was developed by Raytheon partner Versatron (now a part of General Dynamics) for gun- launched projectiles under Navy Phase I and II SBIR awards beginning in the late 1990s. Versatron's design provided enabling technology for precision-guided projectiles. This technology has been used on nearly all guided projectiles developed over the past ten years, and contributes to the precision guidance capability for the U.S. Army's Excalibur guided projectile.

San Diego Composites: San Diego Composites worked with Raytheon to develop an innovative replacement design for an expensive mechanical structure using a low-cost material approach, initially funded under internal research and development funding, followed by MDA and Navy SBIR funding. The result: Component cost was reduced by more than one-third.

KaZaK Composites: Raytheon was involved in the Phase II development and test of armor protection for ship applications with KaZaK Composites. This new high-performance material provides Phase III cost savings to the U.S. Navy and is now part of a significant contract award for the Zumwalt DDG-1000 Destroyer program.

Beacon: Raytheon has actively worked with Beacon Interactive Systems on various Phase II SBIR projects, culminating in a Phase III transition of Beacon's IMAPS maintenance software to the Zumwalt DDG-1000 Destroyer Program. Leveraging this successful SBIR-developed capability, U.S. Fleet Forces Command is currently in the process of transitioning IMAPS to every ship in the fleet.

Iris Technology Corporation: In a collaboration that began in Phase I, Iris Technology Corporation designed and built a next-generation cryo-cooler motor drive. Their concept improved system efficiency, electromagnetic interference performance, power capacity, vibration and temperature control, and radiation hardness. This SBIR-developed technology helped Raytheon secure a new program win; the technology will be further matured as a part of this program.

BSEI: BSEI was developing target acquisition algorithms for foliage penetration. Raytheon supported BSEI's effort by developing a small airborne radar system for this application. Raytheon received Phase III funding through an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract to build the radar system and test BSEI's target recognition algorithms, with BSEI participating as a subcontractor. We are currently pursuing funding via the CPP initiative to transition the complete system into production for drug enforcement missions, and evaluating expansion of this capability for DoD applications.

DSI: Raytheon's AMRAAM Program defined a Phase 0 information technologAMRAAM Programy topic for supply chain management risk-mitigation planning and implementation. Phase I and II SBIR awards were made to DSI by the Air Force. Early in the process, Raytheon awarded a Phase III contract to DSI to begin integration of the software into our management information and control systems. We are currently working with multiple programs across the business unit to pursue implementation funding to transition this unique capability into broader use.

These examples of Raytheon SBIR success stories represent only a sampling of how we have successfully partnered with small businesses and government through the SBIR program to close technology gaps. Raytheon continues to welcome opportunities to establish new partnerships with additional small businesses, including veteran-owned, disadvantaged and Mentor–Protégé participating businesses.

John P. Waszczak

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