• Princeton Power Systems
  • OptiPro Systems
  • Diamond Visionics LLC
  • Aptima, Inc.
  • C3I, Inc.
  • Inovati
  • Adaptive Technologies, Inc.
  • KCF Technologies, Inc.
  • Thermal Wave Imaging, Inc.

Princeton Power Systems

Phase III Success: $25,000,000 in commercial sales Topic Number: N07-130

PRIOR TO THE SUMMER OF 2009, the famed Alcatraz Island, located 1.5 miles off the coast of San Francisco, couldn't shake its dependence on foreign fossil fuels. Over 2,000 gallons of diesel fuel were being imported every week to keep the historical site up and running, at a cost of $0.76 per kWh. While talks had been in the works for years to install a solar-powered microgrid on the island, the feasibility of the project seemed too costly and complicated. However, when Princeton Power Systems demonstrated its expertise and highly sought-after clean energy technology using solar arrays and a battery bank, the project was given the green light. Today, Alcatraz Island runs almost entirely on renewable energy, saving taxpayers 80% on fuel use, and setting the stage for a massive mainstream conversation about microgrids and energy storage systems.

While Princeton Power has certainly reaped the rewards - to the tune of over $25 million in commercial sales - its humble beginnings were funded by various research and development grants, as clean energy was not at the forefront of everyone's mind. In 2009, Princeton Power won a Phase II SBIR award from NAVSEA to develop a system for future all-electric warships. These ships would have a greater demand for compact power conversion equipment, high conversion efficiency, and electrical system flexibility and reliability. The goal was to increase the power density of power converters without compromising the functional performance. AC-link power conversion technology and high-voltage silicon carbide (SiC) switches allowed for a small, more efficient and more flexible product that provided simplified ship design, improved ship efficiency, and improved electrical system control.

While presenting at the 2010 Navy Opportunity Forum, Princeton Power got the chance to demonstrate its vision and put itself front and center of many eager large contractors, which would end up utilizing the same form of technology for many commercial applications.

"The Forum allowed us to interact with several companies, system integrators, prime contractors, and representatives from the Navy and Army," says Darren Hammell, Chief Strategy Officer at Princeton Power Systems. "In general, it was helpful in our branding and to get our message out and make the community aware of who we are and what we're doing. We are definitely seeing the benefits of that now."

Princeton Power continued its development of a whole platform of power conversion technologies, and it was met with high demand in the commercial marketplace, enabling a very high transition rate (90%) for its product line.

Today, the company is working in three main sectors - microgrids, energy storage systems, and electric vehicle charging, which all utilize the same underlying platform. Similar systems to the Alcatraz microgrid have been constructed in the Caribbean, Europe and other parts of North America, including military bases.

Princeton Power is currently working with Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman on other projects involving microgrids. There is a huge interest today for these systems in the Northeast, after the devastation caused by Super Storm Sandy. Solar arrays still require electric grids to generate power, so users are still prone to losing power. Princeton's systems can run with and without an electric grid, and are therefore safe from power outages. Instead, users can "disconnect" from the grid using a combination of solar arrays and batteries, which are part of their microgrid technology. There is also a large demand for this in San Diego and across California, due to the large wildfires that have been sweeping across the land and destroying power lines.

Stationary battery banks can also be tied up directly to the electric grid. In addition to providing back up power for local businesses, these batteries can be dispatched to provide services to the electric utility companies and grid operators by correcting irregularities in the grids. One battery system can provide a number of different services, leveraging recent advances in battery technology. For instance with lithium ion or advanced batteries - as performance continues to go up, and prices come down, there has been increasing demand for stationary energy storage. Princeton's technology provides the interface between those batteries and the electric grid. Electric vehicle charging is becoming more dynamic and Princeton Power is working on new standards for car chargers, including moving more towards a universal "fast" car charger that is compatible with all electric cars. Recently, the City of San Diego and Clean Tech San Diego partnered to complete the "Solar-to-EV Project" - a one-of-a-kind, 90-kilowatt solar canopy in the zoo parking lot shared by the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park. The innovative system uses Princeton Power Systems' DRI-100, an inverter specifically designed to enable fast charging of electric vehicles from renewable sources. The very first of its kind in the country, the Solar-to-EV Project allows electric vehicles to operate directly from renewable solar energy, and could prove to be the platform for future sustainable energy solutions.


Phase III Success: $5 million through contracts with the U.S. Navy, prime contractors, and private sales Topic Number: N04-172

NEXT GENERATION MISSILES, with their aerodynamic infrared domes, provide reduced drag, increased angle of regard for the sensor, and the improved ability to fly through rain and sand. This is accomplished by using new materials such as Spinel and Polycrystalline Alumina, and by utilizing refined aerodynamic shapes, such as the tangent ogive. However, commercial grinding and finishing equipment were limited to processing spherical and hemispherical domes. These systems were typically 3-axis machines, and were not designed for the complex aspheric and conformal shapes that are being designed into next generation military requirements. A new process was needed that could be applied to these shapes, especially the deep concave infrared domes.

OptiPro, with the help of the Navy SBIR program, set out to develop its UltraForm Finishing technology, with 5 axes of computer controlled motion and long-arm tooling design. This finishing process has the unique ability to deterministically finish these newly designed complex geometries. The technology utilizes a large variety of grinding and polishing abrasives and belts that allow for the finishing of a broad range of glass and crystalline materials. In addition, the UltraWheel diameters range from 3/8 inch to several inches, making it very flexible to finish a variety of shapes and contours, and the long extension arm of the wheel allows finishing inside deep concave ogives.

While presenting its now patented technology at the 2010 Navy Opportunity Forum and other trade shows along the way, OptiPro realized the huge potential that UltraForm Finishing could provide to a wide range of companies and government agencies.

"The biggest value of the Forum for us has been the exposure and the opportunity to get in front of primes," explains Mike Bechtold, President of OptiPro. "You also meet other companies and talk to other small businesses, and there may be an opportunity to collaborate or to utilize their technologies and learn how to troubleshoot problems together."

Once NASA saw how the Navy was using UltraForm Finishing to provide solutions to warfighter needs, they realized this new technology made sense for them. OptiPro soon won a Phase I award with NASA to use UltraForm Finishing as a processing technique for several projects, including polishing tapered toroidal shaped mandrels for the International X-ray Observatory (IXO). They are now working on a Phase II SBIR with NASA for this project and other off-axis parabolic mirror applications.

OptiPro has sold 12 of its UltraForm Finishing machines, ranging from $275,000 to $375,000. Several large prime contractors are also using OptiPro's technology internally to fabricate uniquely shaped optical components. These real-world applications are providing solutions to the U.S. Department of Defense - in fact, one subcontract customer used their technology to finish the night vision optics that were used by the U.S. Navy Seals during Operation Neptune Spear.

Another success that stemmed from its various SBIRs was OptiPro's UltraSurf non-contact measuring system. While the company originally set out to develop a way to accurately measure aspherical shapes such as ogives, its accuracy has far exceeded the original goals for the project. The UltraSurf technology is now being viewed as a viable solution for measuring freeform shapes.

Through additional Navy contracts, OptiPro is maturing its UltraForm Finishing process to incorporate a complimentary UltraSmooth Finishing process, in addition to developing OptiSonic, an ultrasonic technology implemented on automatic tool-changing grinding machines. Funding from the U.S. Navy has allowed OptiPro to develop new concepts of machines and also the new process capabilities to go with it. The Navy has been extremely supportive in OptiPro's quest to mature these technologies, even though offshore competition may be stiff in some cases. The company shares this "Made in the USA" pride and takes efforts to keep its unique finishing technology in the United States. OptiPro is currently working on 5 SBIR projects with the Navy.

OptiPro has a unique position in that it is currently the only U.S.-based company providing CNC optical grinding, polishing and metrology solutions for the precision optics industry, including more than fourteen different commercially available products. Sales of OptiPro equipment rapidly grew, as new and innovative products were developed. The impact of OptiPro machine sales has greatly affected the U.S. optical market. Many of its current customers are implementing OptiPro's Computer Controlled optical machining solutions for their production of optics for military night vision, infrared, and missile dome requirements.

Military suppliers currently utilizing OptiPro's optical fabrication solutions include numerous defense contractors, small-to-large precision optics manufacturers, and universities across the United States.

Diamond Visionics LLC

Phase III Success: $6M in contracts with the U.S. Navy, the Canadian Dept. of National Defense, Boeing and others Topic Number: N07-T005

FLIGHT SIMULATORS, which are instrumental in military aircraft training programs, require complex computer generated graphics in order to accurately represent the world for pilots. Topography, coastlines, landmarks and even the exact markings on airfields all have to be on point in order to create a realistic and recognizable world-view.

Six years ago, the incredible amount of computer resources needed to make this happen were not possible. This led the team at Diamond Visionics to develop their texture synthesis-based image generation technology that would soon change the face of geospatial visual simulation.

Realizing customers were always seeking improvement in image generator graphics, Diamond Visionics applied for and won a Navy STTR contract via NAVAIR to help them bring this idea to life. Traditional simulator graphics at the time required an extensive and time-consuming database design process whereby the areas of interest were created offline. Designers would start off with imagery, elevation, and feature data, then run it through expensive tools to create an open flight format database, which is a static file that must be loaded and compiled into memory.

Diamond Visionics' innovation starts off with that same data, but the data are directly loaded onto a raw source data file during run time and rendered on the fly. This real-time rendering allows the user to rapidly change data sets with continuity so all that is required is a refresh. This eliminates the need to create an offline database, which can take weeks or months to complete.

The main benefit to this technology, which later evolved into the GenesisRTX product line, is the ability to load raw source data on the fly. It allows the user to have complete control of the rendering; they can optimize performance by holding a 60-hertz refresh rate, thus displaying the maximum amount of content in the scene.

In addition, whereas past flight simulators would "jump" from city to city, say if a pilot were flying from Jacksonville to Hawaii, the GenesisRTX graphics allow for a continuous flight representation to and from anywhere in the world. If airfields are of particular interest, the software can create an exact replica of the airfield, including signs, navigation aids, runway lengths, markings of taxiways and exact lighting patterns.

Diamond Visionics' relationship with Boeing helped propel the GenesisRTX into the commercial marketplace. The connection began at a trade show in Orlando several years ago. Top executives and engineers from Boeing walked by just as Diamond Visionics was giving a live demonstration. While Boeing realized this had the potential to save them a lot of time and money, they were highly skeptical of the technology. After all, Diamond Visionics was challenging the traditional idea of what was necessary. Boeing began an extensive evaluation with a sample product and was able to use the software successfully, subsequently becoming one of Diamond Visionics' biggest supporters. Boeing saved millions of dollars, and is currently using the system in many different divisions all over their North American enterprise.

The 2009-10 Navy Opportunity Forum, which was the culmination of the 10-month Navy Transition Assistant Program (Navy TAP), was another opportunity for Diamond Visionics to showcase its coveted technology. They were met with many interested attendees and potential customers.

"One thing that helped, in preparing for the Navy Opportunity Forum, was building a quad chart - which is a condensed, crystalized message of what we are doing," explains Tim Woodard, Director of Research and Development at Diamond Visionics. "This helped us to communicate more clearly to the customer what the distinguishing characteristics are of what we've done. The final report on an STTR could be 40-50 pages of technical info - how do you boil that down into a marketable message? Having to pull it down into a quad chart was a great exercise."

In addition to large commercial contracts and the sale of over 2,000 licenses to prime contractors, Diamond Visionics has also entered into agreements with the U.S. and Canadian Governments. The U.S. Navy will use GenesisIG this year on a P3C simulator. This is the same product being fielded by the Canadian Department of National Defense as part of their Canadian Advanced Synthetic Environment (CASE) program. Other clients include top companies in the aerospace industry, and a variety of Fortune 500 corporate clients and commercial airlines.

Aptima, Inc.

Phase III Success: $2.8 million from contract with NAVAIR Topic Number: N07-099

Simulators are crucial for training civilian and military personnel, and they have evolved over the years to provide varying levels of fidelity and training utility. Prior to this SBIR however, there was no standard tool for determining the appropriate level of fidelity in simulators to achieve specified training objectives, maintain trainee acceptance, and fit within budgetary constraints. Since adjusting fidelity to the right level drives budget and optimizes readiness, the team at Aptima was motivated by one simple question - is all that fidelity really necessary? While most pilots would say "yes," Aptima challenged this widespread opinion. Specifically, they wanted to measure the correlation between fidelity and training effectiveness, and how much fidelity could be dialed down without compromising the integrity of the training. This led to the development of PREDICT - Predicting Requirements for Instructional Environment Design to Improve Critical Training.

All simulator-based training programs struggle with the same problem-identifying which objectives can be trained in lower- or higher-fidelity simulators, and which require training in the actual aircraft. Aptima's vision was that PREDICT would be a tool that combines fidelity requirements defined by end-users, existing theory and research about fidelity, and objective performance data from fidelity experiments to support more informed decisions regarding the acquisition and use of training simulators. This was a vast difference from the baseline technology at the time, which provided data exclusively from end-users. This approach is problematic since it typically results in specifications for a simulator that exceed the amount of money available for development and/or acquisition. As a result, acquisition and training professionals must make difficult fidelity trade-off decisions.

PREDICT provides two main capabilities. First, the user can provide information on the fidelity of a simulator and the tool predicts the training effectiveness of that simulator on specific training outcomes. Second, the user can compare the predicted training effectiveness of multiple simulators side-by-side.

After entering into the Navy Transition Assistance Program (Navy TAP), Aptima discovered that a growing number of customers shared its conviction of looking at the relationship between fidelity and training effectiveness, and also the need to measure results objectively. This led to some key conversations with personnel at ONR and NAVAIR. "The most beneficial aspect of the TAP for us was the chance to get to know the folks in the Navy community, and as a result, recognizing there was a very good match between what they needed and what we could provide," says Webb Stacy, Corporate Fellow at Aptima, Inc. "We discovered there was a strong interest in a number of quarters to understand more about fidelity and training effectiveness, and the Navy Opportunity Forum allowed us to connect with others who shared our perspectives."

PREDICT was initially designed to support the F/A-18 community with simulator fidelity trade-off decisions. However, since PREDICT is mission focused (e.g., air-to-ground), versus platform focused, it can assist all aircraft platforms that fly the same missions as the F/A-18, including the F-35, F-16 and F-22.

Aptima entered into a $2.8 million contract with NAVAIR to use PREDICT in landing carrier training. Currently, Aptima is in its second year of a 4-year Future Naval Capabilities project with ONR, focused on Live, Virtual, Constructive (LVC) training. This time, they are on the other end of the fidelity equation, investigating how fidelity can be dialed up for difficult tasks such as an F/A-18 landing on a carrier. Currently, there is no way around the fact that carrier landing training must happen in an actual aircraft. Aptima is leading the research to figure out how much the fidelity would have to be increased and how in order to complete a significant portion of this training in a simulator.

Aptima brings together a unique team of people experienced at applying and evaluating applications of cutting-edge technologies in the military, national security, aviation and medical communities. The collective expertise of the firm's staff has been applied in multiple engineering domains including military command and control, complex information display, decision support, emergency preparedness, organizational design, technology evaluation, performance measurement, and cognitive skills and cultural training. Over 85% of Aptima's contracts have been from agencies across the Department of Defense.

C3I, Inc.

Phase III Success: $8.1 million in contracts with the Navy and commercial sales Topic Number: N04-081

When C3I embarked on its original SBIR with NAVSEA, the company had a goal to develop an integrated, re-configurable, flexible lighting control system for shipboard applications. Existing flight deck lighting equipment at the time was comprised of stand alone, non-integrated equipment that required a large number of personnel to meet the safety requirements and operational demands of deck personnel and flight crews operating in specialized warfare conditions. Additionally, there was a specific need to develop a system for vessels performing both air operations and well-deck operations. The complexity and tempo of operations indicated they would require a highly integrated lighting and equipment control system to be capable of safely and efficiently controlling divergent systems from a common centralized control station, with a reduced number of personnel.

The result was C3I's patented Advanced Lighting System (ALS)/Advanced Communication and Control System (ACCS) - a comprehensive ship-wide integrated lighting control system that incorporated the required elements of a mature system. The ALS can be used in Visual Landing Aid/Next Generation Visual Landing Aid (VLA/NGVLA) systems aboard helicopter carrying ships, and can be used for fixed wing ships. The system can also integrate related and supporting ship systems into a common control and communication system.

The ALS/ACCS provides an integrated software suite including all closed loop device driver software, communication algorithms, application programs, and control panel Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs). The ALS/ACCS software suite provides embedded lighting/control system configuration tools, designated the ALS/ACCS "Tool Box" which gives the system designer the ability to design, customize, and maintain the shipboard lighting/control system without the need to write new software. This includes the ability to create new groups; design and layout group control pages; assign controlled devices to specific super-groups, groups and sub-groups; define control transfer methodologies; and configure individual device capabilities.

"We believe the market cap for our technology is very large and we are aggressively pursuing those opportunities," says Michael J. Curry, President of C3I. "At the time we won this SBIR, we were a $300,000 company, and today we are over $3.5 million and growing at double digits each year."

ALS/ACCS technology is currently being fielded by the U.S. Navy for control of navigation lights, personnel safety barriers, flight deck visual landing aides including deck lighting, glide slope indicators, large screen displays, boat launch and recovery lighting, ship interior lighting and robotic firefighting systems. A test suite of C3I's technology is currently being installed onboard the USS WASP (LHD-1), a large deck amphibious ship for the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF-35) Program. The company has installed a flight deck lighting system at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida for JSF-35 training and is pursuing other JSF training locations to market the technology. In addition, other commercial companies such as Temeku Technologies, Remote Source Lighting, Akron Brass, and Maritime Applied Physics Corporation have all partnered with C3I to utilize its lighting and control system technology. C3I also received a contract in early 2012 from General Dynamics Bath Iron Works to integrate their flight deck equipment and systems on the DDG 1000 into ACCS. "We are still following up on many of the initiatives that started at the Navy Opportunity Forum," says Charles Wagner, CEO and CTO of C3I. "There is a very good chance of collaboration and working with other companies you meet through the Forum. We are currently pursuing some very large contracts that we feel are a good fit for our technology." After working with individuals in the Navy and particularly within NAVAIR, C3I was able to further develop its technology, and the result has been high demand among very eager consumers, especially within the Department of Defense. C3I believes its ALS/ACCS technology results in significant construction and manpower savings in shipboard applications, while at the same time enabling U.S. Navy vessels to meet high tempo operations that employ rapidly re-configurable lighting technologies successfully and safely. In addition, it significantly reduces high power cable quantities, reduces and simplifies control cable requirements, reduces operational manpower requirements, reduces lighting maintenance, improves lighting system reliability and situational awareness, and dramatically improves lighting flexibility and capability. C3I is continuing its work with NAVAIR through the Aviation Lighting System Control Panel Set (ALS CPS).

"We were enormously fortunate to have worked with people at NAVAIR who are national treasures," says Curry. "They helped us to develop our technology, and if they hadn't been there, we would not be here today."

Curry went on to thank Kim Reymann, George Bray, Kurt Harting, Cathy Malvasio, and the entire Command team at NAVAIR Lakehurst for their support and guidance during the SBIR process and during follow-on contracts.

C3I's expertise includes real time, embedded systems using COTS platforms, as well as software development, energy management technology, shipboard control and navigation equipment, and directed thrust control systems. C3I's equipment and systems support submarines, surface ships, gas turbine and nuclear power plants, autonomous vehicles, and passenger ferries. They have designed and manufactured precision, critical controls and instruments in four major products lines: Advanced Communication and Control Systems, Interior Communications, Distributed Data Acquisition, and Bridge Display Systems.


Phase III Success: Over $10.5 million in contracts with the U.S. Navy and private sales Topic Number: N07-122

When complex components on Navy aircraft are damaged by corrosion, wear, or other mechanical failures, repairs must happen immediately in order for the parts to be put back into service. The current field repair process for Ion-Vapor-Deposition Aluminum (IVD-Al) coatings, however, is environmentally problematic, as well as potentially harmful to the repair personnel. The process required involves brush electroplating of hazardous cadmium or using variations of nickel-based materials to repair these IVD-Al coatings. When the Navy expressed a desire to reduce human exposure to cadmium and eliminate the entire electroplating process, Inovati embarked on several SBIR projects - first in 2006, and again in 2009 - to introduce a much sought-after solution. This solution was called Kinetic Metallization (KM), which is a process that performs dimensional restoration of holes, grooves and defects in magnesium and aluminum alloy materials and repairs corrosion-protective coatings on high-strength steels.

Kinetic Metallization is a solid-state process that does not metallurgically alter the properties of the coatings or the substrate. Inert gas is used to spray metallic powders, which eliminates deposition-induced oxide formation. In addition, KM implemented with a debris recovery system is ecologically sustainable and does not chemically degrade the environment.

Inovati knew its technology had huge potential benefits to both the Department of Defense and within the commercial marketplace. Kinetic Metallization technology for in-service field and depot repairs of minor damage or corrosion control coatings on aircraft components reduces maintenance costs and allows military aircraft to remain in operational service for longer periods before major overhaul. Commercial deployment of both fixed and portable Kinetic Metallization systems and powder alloy formulations allow repairs of minor defects in magnesium and aluminum alloy castings and parts and provides a method of applying or restoring corrosion control coatings on many types of products.

In 2009, Inovati completed its second stint in the Navy Transition Assistance Program (Navy TAP) with the goal of maturing the KM process and finding the right customers. The 2010 Navy Opportunity Forum followed the 10-month program, and Inovati got its first big break. After making a very strategic connection with interested attendees from Aerojet, Inovati aligned itself with the prime contractor and subsequently developed ceramic composite materials together.

"Our experiences with the TAP allowed us a greater customer base for our KM products," says Howard Gabel, Inovati President. "It has helped us to acquire Phase III funding for Kinetic Metallization systems for deployment at the NAVAIR Fleet Readiness Center in San Diego and in our development and repair of the F-18 Hornet. Overall, our experiences with the Navy have been positive, and the Navy has helped us expand our customer base and funding efforts."

The Navy came onboard when they learned of the cost savings that KM technology provides. To illustrate, the replacement cost for F-18 AMAD Gearbox housing is $80,000. These units can be repaired for approximately $2,500 using the KM process, resulting in a net savings of $77,500 per unit. Turn-around schedules for refurbishment and repair of F-18 AMAD housing is reduced from 15 months for replacement to one month for repair. Currently, the NAVAIR Fleet Readiness Center at North Island has applied for capital equipment funding in 2014 to procure a KM system, which would permit dimensional restoration repairs of the F-18 AMAD housings at the depot.

KM technology was recently used to restore worn and damaged surfaces on Super Hornet hydraulic gear pump shafts with a wear resistant tungsten carbide cobalt coating. Additional developments are underway to dimensionally restore damage to journal bearing shafts for F-18 electrical generators and to provide a wear and corrosion resistant protective coating on the tail hook pivot assembly.

In addition to the Naval Aviation depots, other DoD branches including the Air Force and Army depots can directly benefit from providing an environmentally sustainable method of repairing damaged coatings and non-structural components on fixed-wing and rotary aircraft or other ground-based vehicles at depot or field-level. Many of the IVD-Al plating manufacturers have expressed a need for repairing damaged OEM IVD-Al coatings on aircraft parts without having to rework the entire component.

Inovati has leveraged its proprietary solid-state coating process to develop eco-friendly turnkey KM systems for deposition of low temperature coatings and materials for repair and protection of components. Current customers span a large market spectrum including electronics, aerospace, oil and gas, power generation, military, medical, and automotive. Inovati has developed and commercialized several models of KM Coating Systems, which are currently marketed to industry, government, and academic entities.

Adaptive Technologies, Inc.

Phase III Success: $5.56 Million in contracts with NAVAIR, Air Force, and commercial sales Topic Number: N04-255

Maintainers working on flight decks have the critical responsibility to maintain flight operations for the U.S. Navy. Working side by side with massive machines, they are exposed to some of the most hazardous and demanding conditions on Earth. This high-stress work environment requires advanced personal protective equipment to keep maintainers safe. Flight Deck Cranial (FDC) systems, designed to provide head and hearing protection to the maintainer workforce, have not kept pace with advancements in aircraft power, velocity and noise. FDCs are also unable to cope with the introduction of night vision devices (NVD), since they were designed at a time before NVDs were introduced, and therefore only hearing protection was considered. The result was an unsuccessful attempt at properly adjusting NVDs for use during night operations while adjusting the Hearing Protection Devices (HPD) for proper hearing protection. The two facets were being forced to work together even though neither was designed with the other in mind. Poor fit, bad hygiene, and the fact that these systems have never met any form of industry or military standard for head protection, all led Adaptive Technologies, Inc. (ATI) to embark on an SBIR funded by NAVAIR for improved safety and system integration for the FDC.

ATI's FDC system dramatically improves hearing protection, speech intelligibility, and impact protection, as well as provides a stable mounting platform for use of Night Vision Devices. A modular design allows for specific tailoring of hearing protection and speech intelligibility performance to meet mission needs. The FDC may also be used with Chemical, Biological, and Radiological protection equipment, as well as current and future communication interfaces.

Noise generated in and around military aircraft presents a significant risk to short and long-term hearing health and creates an environment in which communication becomes intractable. Improved hearing protection addresses the Veterans Administration's growing hearing related injury claims, which exceeded $2 billion in 2010. The FDC technology was originally sought to address this growing issue. As the program progressed, the Navy recognized an additional need to upgrade its head protection. Fueled by SBIR funding, ATI defined three distinct levels of hearing protection and communications performance, followed by a comprehensive list of features required to bring head and hearing protection in line with modern standards and ancillary man-mounted systems.

The resulting system currently meets all requirements for head impact protection, hearing protection and speech intelligibility in these extremely dangerous environments. The compatibility features of the design permits use with current and future hearing protector designs and communication systems, as well as flight deck goggle systems. It also addresses comfort of fit across a wide anthropometric range.

ATI's FDC system, which is comprised of the DC-2 single hearing protector and the Argonaut Communications Headset, was tested aboard multiple Navy assets, including the USS Kearsarge and the USS Enterprise. After a 2-and-a-half week deployment and multiple professional assessments by the fleet, ATI demonstrated wide acceptance of the technology. As a result, ATI transitioned all systems to Aegisound LLC, from whom all systems are now available for procurement. Different parts of the product suite are in production and being sold to both the U.S. Navy and other partner countries.

Aegisound product sales of DC-2 and CTE30X hearing protectors to NAVAIR and APC-2G head protectors to the Air Force, have exceeded $5.3 million. The Air Force has also provided another $3 million in Phase II funding to Aegisound to support further manufacturing improvements in digital active noise reduction technologies developed by ATI during NAVAIR sponsored SBIR programs. Today, there are tens of thousands of Aegisound hearing protectors incorporating ATI's technologies aboard Navy ships. ATI also partnered with Lockheed Martin on its Joint Strike Fighter Program, and Lockheed Martin has purchased hundreds of Digital Active Noise Reduction (DANR) Double Hearing Protector (DHP) systems from Aegisound, which are designed to be used in extreme noise environments such as jet noise up to 140 dB(A).

Although ATI's contacts with prime contractors preceded the Navy Opportunity Forum, the company still recognizes the benefits of such a platform. "Overall, the TAP does a good job of educating companies on what they need to do to get to Phase III," says Mike Abbott, President & Director of New Product Development at Adaptive Technologies. "The Forum is a great opportunity for small businesses to showcase their technologies."

Adaptive Technologies, Inc. is a small business located in Blacksburg, VA. Since 1997, the engineering staff has completed numerous consulting contracts and has been awarded Phase II SBIR contracts by all of the various DOD agencies. Adaptive Technologies, Inc. provides R&D, design and engineering, and consultation on products and problems associated with noise control, hearing protection, signal processing, and control theory.

KCF Technologies, Inc.

Phase III Success: Over $3 million from commercial contracts Topic Number: N07-076

In recent years, information infrastructure has grown dramatically based on providing new opportunities for cost savings and performance enhancements across a wide range of systems and devices. A key part of the new information infrastructure enabling this revolution is cost effective and reliable acquisition and dissemination of information. At an asset level, this is being facilitated by the transition from hardwired sensors to energy harvester powered wireless sensors, which addresses four implementation barriers: 1) weight, 2) installation time/cost, 3) reliability, and 4) opportunity for temporary fit. For example, energy harvester powered wireless sensors are enabling the expansion of Health and Usage Monitoring Systems (HUMS) on rotorcraft to provide comprehensive condition monitoring, thereby enhancing safety and reducing maintenance costs.

KCF acquired a Phase II contract with ONR for further development of its energy harvesting technology, and subsequently joined the Navy Transition Assistance Program (Navy TAP). By collaborating with NAVAIR technical experts, KCF matured its technology - an ultra-compact power harvesting device enabled by single-crystal piezoelectric material. Single-crystal piezoelectric materials are a key technology in reducing the size and weight of vibration energy harvesters. The high, single-crystal piezoelectric coupling coefficient and low elastic compliance result in a four-fold improvement in device power density over conventional solutions. The compactness and high power of single-crystal piezoelectric materials particularly benefit aircraft applications where weight reductions and high reliability are critical. KCF has filed 2 patents on the technology.

KCF successfully showcased its technology at the 2010 Navy Opportunity Forum. A significant outcome of the Forum for KCF was the initiation of development partnerships based on the TAP's one-on-one sessions. These partnerships have since evolved into very mature relationships that are leveraging its energy harvester work. Today, almost one third of KCF's business is specific to supporting sensor development efforts that resulted from the Navy Opportunity Forum.

"Developing strong working relationships with OEMs provides the best transition opportunities for a company of our size, and that is one of the main benefits of the TAP," says Dr. Jacob Loverich, Director of Engineering for KCF. "From a technical standpoint, this ONR sponsored SBIR development has led to energy harvesting, which has become a key enabling technology to support truly wireless communication for helicopter vibration monitoring."

The success with the energy harvester development is supporting not only military specific applications but also commercial applications. One such application is Condition Based Maintenance (CBM) in industrial facilities. Thanks to the energy harvesting and wireless communication, vibration sensors for characterizing the condition of machines can now be deployed at a fraction of the life cycle cost of conventional sensors.

Reactive maintenance processes inherently lead to unplanned downtime and lost production - inefficiencies that cost the United States economy as much as $2.5 Trillion per year (as estimated by the DoE Industrial Technologies Program). To help companies eliminate these costs and enhance productivity, KCF Technologies introduced an energy harvester powered wireless CBM sensor system called SmartDiagnostics.

KCF SmartDiagnostics was designed using innovative low power energy management technology that is fundamental to energy harvester powered devices to provide an affordable and integrated suite of products that puts predictive maintenance within practical reach of medium and small operations - anyone that demands the best protection and longest life from key machinery.

In addition to the single crystal vibration energy harvester, SmartDiagnostics includes other harvester options such as thermal and solar which use some of the core technology in the single crystal vibration harvester. The harvesters are all designed to deliver near-continuous power to wireless sensors or other low power devices. They can be mixed and matched so you choose the right harvester for the environment. The harvesters leverage KCF's patent pending technology to ensure rapid charge-up for initial sensor readings and long energy storage of excess harvested energy to ensure sensor operation for times when environmental energy is not available. The harvesters are engineered to be very robust - suitable out-of-the-box for installation in harsh industrial settings.

To ensure high-bandwidth, high-reliability wireless communication at the lowest possible energy budget, KCF's SmartDiagnostics sensors utilize a highly efficient, proprietary wireless protocol. The protocol is optimized to transmit full dynamic vibration spectrum using only the power available from KCF's energy harvesters.

KCF Technologies' leadership has demonstrated a strong track record of commercializing technology from SBIR-funded projects. Every Phase 2 SBIR/STTR project completed by KCF has resulted in a successfully launched commercial product. KCF's SmartDiagnostics product line incorporates technology that was developed under the SBIR program. It is providing improved uptime and reduced maintenance costs in a wide range of markets including waste water, pulp and paper, industrial chillers, and oil and gas. The KCF Smart Tether, initiated with Navy ONR STTR funding, is currently available as an underwater GPS navigation system for VideoRay ROVs and divers. After a product launch in 2008, over 180 systems have been delivered for use by police departments, port security units, and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Thermal Wave Imaging, Inc.

Phase III Success: $3,600,000 from sales to prime contractors and development funding Topic Number: N06-T011

Like many small businesses, Thermal Wave Imaging, Inc. (TWI) had an idea and a product that they felt could provide huge potential benefits to the Department of Defense. The challenge was finding its entry-point into the market. Turbine blade manufac-turing requires numerous inspections at several stages of the manufacturing process, each requiring different technology, equipment, training and personnel. Based on their experience in providing thermographic inspec-tion systems to the turbine industry, scientists at TWI realized that their thermography technology could per-form nearly all of the required inspections. The race was on to develop a single system that could consolidate all of these inspections, and streamline the entire manufac-turing process. When the U.S. Navy heard its proposal, an initial STTR was granted to TWI.

As market research progressed, the team at TWI learned that clients were usually focused on a single inspection task, and were not likely to purchase an all-in-one system. As a result, they came to a pragmatic decision to make the system modular. They also learned about an aspect of the inspection process that was wide-ly regarded as particularly tedious and time consuming. In the typical inspection for blockages in cooling holes, inspectors manually insert a wire probe through every single hole. If TWI could provide a solution to this la-bor intensive and cost inefficient process, the team knew they could attract industry attention. And that is exactly what happened. After proving that their Thermal Air Flow Inspection System (TAFIS) could eliminate this manual inspection and reduce inspection time to less than 15 seconds, TWI suddenly found its entry into the market and gained widespread attention from industry leaders. From there, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce helped TWI understand the specialized requirements of the aircraft turbine blade manufacturing environment, and TWI was able to demonstrate they could easily ex-ceed existing inspection requirements.

While developing the TAFIS system, TWI recognized another opportunity - the detection of residual ceramic core, where the conventional inspection solution, neutron radiography, was creating a logjam in the blade manufac-turing process. TWI realized the patented technology that TAFIS was built on could perform this inspection using thermography. Whereas neutron radiography reveals the presence of the core residue, the TWI approach shows the change in performance of the blade due to the pres-ence of core, which the company feels is far more valu-able, since the process works in a thermodynamic space as opposed to just the structural space.

Throughout the Phase II development process, TWI worked with the Navy Transition Assistance Program (TAP) to assist them in their market research and market-ing initiatives.

"Primes and other large companies are able to separate the technical focus of their work from the marketing, and the marketing begins in the early development stages. Small technology companies can't always do that; they just don't have the resources," explains Dr. Steven Shepard, President and Founder of Thermal Wave Imaging, Inc. "Consequently, the same people who are developing the technology have to think about how to market it, but they often don't, until the projects are far along technically. The TAP program forces the small company to start thinking about marketing much earlier in the process. It teaches the small company to think and act more like a big company."

The modular T3S system that emerged from the STTR uses TWI's advanced thermography to detect hole and channel blockages, measure Thermal Barrier Coating (TBC) and wall thickness, detect TBC delamina-tion and detect cracks for land and aerospace-based tur-bine components. T3S can replace many time-intensive inspections currently performed on multiple test sys-tems. Its modular architecture can be configured to meet specific turbine inspection requirements. It uses a single test station for multiple applications, and its non-contact inspection design increases speed, accuracy and reli-ability. The net benefit is increased inspection sensitivity, increased throughput, and significant cost reduction and return on investment.

"The Navy community speaks a very specific language that includes, but is broader than the language that sci-entists speak," says Shepard. "As a result, we sometimes don't effectively communicate what we have to offer in the language of the customer. As scientists who spend a lot of time describing what we do, that's not a criticism we like to hear, but the TAP addresses that and teaches us to speak and understand that language effectively."

Both TAFIS and the T3S are currently being used in military and commercial aircraft platforms. TWI has acquired over $3 million in Phase III revenue as a result of these innovations, including $2.8 million in sales to prime contractors and another $1.6 million in equity and direct development funding.

  • Advanced Rotorcraft
    Technology, Inc.
  • Basic Commerce and
    Industries, Inc.
  • Coherent Logix
  • EM Photonics
  • Phase Matrix, Inc.

Advanced Rotorcraft Technology, Inc.

Phase III Success: $3.8M in product sales to the Navy, Army, prime contractors, and universities

Advanced Rotorcraft Technology

ADVANCED ROTORCRAFT TECHNOLOGY, INC. (ART) is one of the more experienced companies that participates in the Navy Transition Assistance Program (TAP) having received in excess of twelve Phase II SBIR contracts. Despite this level of experience, ART still finds the TAP valuable. According to Ron Du Val, President of ART "Despite the number of times we have participated in the Navy TAP, we always identify new Navy contacts that have an interest in our rotorcraft technology. We ended up with some very useful contacts that we never would have made without the TAP program." These contacts resulted in sales of over $3.8 million (from the most recent Navy Opportunity Forum® event) of the ART Flight Dynamics Model (software) across the Navy, Army, prime contractors, as well as several universities.

The U.S. Army Aeronautical Design Standard for rotorcraft handling qualities (ADS-33E-PRF) is accepted as the formal specification and as design guidance for rotorcraft handling qualities by all the major helicopter manufacturers. The Army upgraded this specification (as a replacement for the handling qualities military specification MIL-H-8501A) to address rotorcraft flying qualities specification requirements. However, it was upgraded primarily for land-based rotorcraft operations without taking into account the naval rotorcraft flying qualities requirements such as the ability to incorporate the new and enhanced requirements in support of shipboard and heavy lift rotorcraft handling qualities.

Additionally, UAV evaluation and control design still needed to be addressed in this upgrade; as did the specifications for cargo and heavy lift rotorcraft under Navy shipboard interactions. NAVAIR initiated an SBIR in 2005 (NAVAIR N05-091) to provide the needed shipboard enhancements to the handling tool kit. The objective of updating the Army's ADS-33E-PRF specification was to accommodate the needs of shipboard rotorcraft handling and heavy lift helicopter specifications. It focused on the unique requirements for maritime rotorcraft, Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL), Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), and cargo and heavy lift helicopters. A series of tests were conducted on NASA's Vertical Motion Simulator at the Ames Research Center using flight dynamics models developed under ART's FLIGHTLAB Development System to evaluate the new handling qualities specifications for these operational requirements.

The Navy-based upgrades to the ADS-33E-PRF specification added requirements to define handling qualities requirements for shipboard operations for manned and unmanned aircraft. No such document existed prior to this innovative ART approach. In the development of this specification upgrade, ART worked with Hoh Aeronautics (which assisted in the original ADS-33 development.) Hoh Aeronautics focused on defining the handling qualities requirements for maritime rotorcraft, heavy lift, VTOL, and UAV while ART focused on the simulation development and criteria evaluation to be performed in FLIGHTLAB. This effort incorporated new and enhanced requirements into FLIGHTLAB's ADS-33 Toolbox in support of shipboard and heavy lift rotorcraft handling qualities analysis and UAV evaluation and control design. The new handling qualities evaluation and simulation tool developed from this SBIR has proven to be of value to rotorcraft manufacturers, research institutes, universities, government agencies, as well as, of course, the military.

The importance of the Aircraft Design Standard (ADS-33E-PRF) is seen in the fact that ART ended up (after the 2009 Forum) selling its simulator software to several organizations such as Liverpool University, Penn State University, the U.S. Army, as well as sales to Lockheed Martin. ART also sold its software to L-3 and the Korean government for the Lynx Helicopter Simulator.

Advanced Rotorcraft Technology, Inc. (ART) is a 20 person organization founded by Dr. Ron Du Val in 1982 and located in Sunnyvale, CA. It is primarily focused on software development providing the industry with high fidelity simulation models of rotorcraft dynamics. Through its flight dynamics modeling and analysis tool (FLIGHTLAB), it supports government, industry and academia in performing engineering analysis of rotorcraft. ART has integrated its dynamics models into a wide array of third party real-time simulators for engineering and training applications. It has combined its simulation software with the most cost-effective commercial off-the-shelf simulator hardware available.

This combination has allowed ART to provide affordable, high fidelity turnkey rotorcraft simulators to military and commercial customers. ART's rotorcraft expertise, coupled with its simulation software and system integration experience has positioned it as a leader in the highly specialized area of rotorcraft simulators.

Dr. Ron Du Val emphasized "The majority of our engineers have doctorates in Aerospace engineering and can provide consulting and engineering services for many different disciplines including Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), Computational Structural Dynamics (CSD), Stability and Control Modeling and Analysis, and Engine/Drivetrain Modeling and Analysis."

Basic Commerce and Industries, Inc.

Phase III Success: $6,257,000


BASIC COMMERCE AND INDUSTRIES, INC. (better known as BCI) has established a strong reputation over the past 30 years in the areas of radar and communications systems design and real-time signal processing system development. This radar work has extended into the field of weather radar with particular emphasis on the development of weather radar processing systems. Through this SBIR, BCI has developed a weather radar processing system that can be used to add advanced weather tracking capability to existing tactical radar systems. This modular software architecture (MSA) provides a low-cost adjunct weather processing capability to tactical radar by extracting weather data from raw radar returns in a "non-interfering manner" with the radar's tactical mission.

Imagine the improved weather forecasting and tracking capability that is delivered by these software-defined algorithms when applied to a variety of Navy radar. Radar systems equipped with this software application can function as an extension of the larger weather environment providing local area information. This modular software architecture (MSA) is essentially a set of radar processing algorithms that are designed to interface with a common raw radar data structure. This software architecture can provide weather-related information in parallel to the radar's tactical mission without any negative impact on radar resources. In this manner, the BCI technology enhances the operational effectiveness of air, ground and sea assets to understand the current weather conditions for asset allocation and mission planning. Virtually every tactical radar system used by the US Armed Forces employs unique interface schemes, hardware configurations, and operational characteristics. The MSA front end translates these custom radar interfaces into a common radar data format which then feeds the common back end processing algorithms. Thus, significantly different radars such as the SPS-48E, SPY-1D, and MPQ-64 can be augmented with a common adjunct MSA processor with greater commonality.

BCI initially launched the first MSA system on the USS Peleliu in the Persian Gulf (2005) and subsequently on the USS Washington for sea trials in 2007. Based on the success with these sea trials, BCI was awarded a Phase II.5 ($2.55 million) to complete the development of this technology as well as a SPAWAR IDIQ (that now exceeds $2.9 million). Through this IDIQ, BCI has now outfitted 14 other ships from landing crafts to large carriers with its MSA system. Additionally, given the convenience of this IDIQ contract, the Air Force has provided funding to modify the MSA system to their radar systems for weather forecasting. The Air Force Weather Agency (part of the Air Combat Command) has adapted the BCI technology for use in Afghanistan in early 2012.

Most importantly, this Navy-funded SBIR effort has allowed BCI to extend this technology into the commercial sector through a strategic relationship with EWR Weather Radar Systems headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri. EWR Weather Radar has been the industry leader in portable weather radar design since 1982 and its systems are in the hands of a broad spectrum of end users. Their customers range from domestic and foreign governments as well as U.S. and international corporations, service providers such as broadcasters and community emergency readiness agencies to local and national weather services and small to mid-sized airports. As stated by Tim Maese, Director of BCI Sensor division: "This is the true strength of the SBIR program, funding the initial 'high risk' development of the underlying technology that, once proven, can be offered to the commercial market. Our strategic relationship with EWR Weather Radar Systems will allow BCI to extend its technology through the extensive network of satisfied EWR users."

Founded in 1982, BCI has grown into a technology company performing independent research and development in the areas of radar and communications systems design and real-time signal processing system development. In addition to the modular software architecture for Advanced Weather Radars program, other current programs include the development of a transmitter noise compensation system for high-power tactical radar systems and development of radar tracker processors. Their growth has been noted in Inc. magazine, Forbes Magazine and by New Jersey Business News as being one of America's fastest growing private companies. BCI currently has 150 employees and generates approximately $25 million a year, 90% of which is government contracts.

With regard to the effectiveness of the Navy Transition Assistance Program (TAP), Maese stated "We were somewhat different than most companies in the TAP program since we already had a Phase III contract for implementation of our technology; however, we found that the TAP program value was in the discipline of consciously thinking through the various elements of the Narrative Briefing, Quad Charts and Navy Forum presentation. We specifically benefited from the marketing-oriented 'elevator speech' that could be communicated quickly to very busy executives wanting to understand the essence of our technical capability."

Coherent Logix

Phase III Success: $6,000,000 from product sales and private investment


AFTER THE 2009 NAVY OPPORTUNITY FORUM®, Coherent Logix successfully secured $2.5 million in Phase II.5 funding for continued development of the HyperX™ processor based Radio and Waveform Development System. In addition, Coherent Logix has sold in excess of $4.0 million in HyperX technology products to both military and commercial customers. Commercial applications include software-defined radio, video and image processing, data compression, encryption, and industrial and medical imaging.

What exactly is the HyperX processor and what are its inherent advantages? The HyperX processor is a massively parallel processor chip. This processor's unique capability is realized by interconnecting energy efficient processing cores with an instant-on and bandwidth-on-demand network fabric, while at the same time offering a seamless hardware programming model across cores and chip boundaries. The chip is supported by a full suite of development tools and targeted market reference hardware development systems that enable real-time prototyping.

The HyperX processor was developed in coordination with both military and commercial customers to meet the rigorous requirements of high performance embedded systems, including software-defined radios (SDRs) and image and video processing systems. Historically, state-of-the-art reconfigurable, programmable processors used in software-defined radios had severe limitations in power, performance and reliability. Typically one or more of these characteristics had to be sacrificed in order to achieve the other required capabilities.

The Coherent Logix high performance, low power HyperX processor provides the power and high energy efficiency needed to make SDR practical. The HyperX design replaces at a minimum the digital signal processor (DSP) and field programmable gate array (FPGA) devices in the SDR. In doing so, the HyperX technology can provide more than an order of magnitude improvement in power savings and improvement in performance, while reducing development time and resources (when compared to conventional multi-chip processing solutions.)

By establishing this capability, Coherent Logix has achieved the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) goal of providing the implementation of standard communications waveforms using "software" defined hardware thereby assuring that a common radio platform can be configured (and reconfigured) by way of software modifications to operate with other radios through one or more of the JTRS standard modulation schemes. Implementation of JTRS radios requires a new class of processors that have sufficient computational bandwidth to implement JTRS waveforms, while consuming significantly less power than traditional programmable solutions. Additionally, the HyperX processor is suitable for developing a wide range of signal processing applications including wireless communications, image processing, electronic warfare, synthetic aperture radar, and sensor fusion.

Michael Doerr, the Chief Technology Officer for Coherent Logix stated: "While the Navy works very closely with the funding organizations and primes during the SBIR period, the Army complements this approach by participating in the joint DoD programs. Not only was Coherent Logix successful in securing a Phase II.5 from the Navy, but given the 'joint services' nature of the JTRS program, Coherent Logix was also awarded a contract from the Army for further development of its HyperX technology."

Doerr emphasized, however: "While the Navy Opportunity Forum® was a great event, it made Coherent Logix fully aware of the long development cycle needed to get military technologies approved. SBIR firms should recognize that the military cycle is more on the order of five to ten years to get a technology all the way through field or sea trials. Regarding the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) provided by the Navy, we found the TIP [market research] information and associated Points of Contact the most helpful; beyond the Forum itself."

Subsequent to the Coherent Logix success with this SBIR, the company has successfully engaged with commercial base station and handset software defined system customers. While this was not a direct result of their Phase II success, it is a clear indication of the power of being successful with these DoD initiatives and developing both the commercial and military opportunities from these SBIRs.

Coherent Logix designs, manufactures and markets programmable digital signal processing solutions to various commercial, government and military markets. Over the past several years, the company has successfully transitioned technology developed under DARPA and DoD contracts to commercial products. Coherent Logix operates R&D, marketing, sales, and support organizations in Austin, TX; San Jose, CA; Portland, OR; and Tokyo, Japan. Looking further ahead, Coherent Logix expects the HyperX processor to provide more general purpose solutions across larger markets.

EM Photonics

Phase III Success: $1,500,000 in government contracts


THE MILITARY HAS A NEED to improve imaging capabilities in degraded visual environments (DVEs), as missions maybe altered or cancelled due to poor visibility. Brownouts have been a particular problem in both Iraq and Afghanistan, where forces are dependent on helicopter support.

Recent research efforts focused on harnessing the unique ability of millimeter waves (MMWs) to penetrate obscurants, including fog, dust, smoke, and blowing sand, to combat brownout and other DVE events. One such effort, pioneered by Phase Sensitive Innovations (PSI), is the development of a novel sensing platform consisting of a distributed array of passive MMW antenna elements. Using a combination of optical and signal processing techniques, this system is able to produce imagery unhindered by obscurants to aid pilots in naviregisgating DVE situations.

EM Photonics has partnered with PSI to add caparegisbilities to their MMW technology. This work focused on the design and integration of an advanced electronic control system, suitable for airframe deployment, to synregischronize the MMW imaging system and to acquire and process data collected.

The target platform for this improved MMW imagregising system was the CH-53 helicopter operated by the Marine Corps. The CH-53 family of heavy lift helicopregisters combines power and versatility like nothing else in the sky. Flying a range of missions that include heavy lift operations, CH-53 helicopters carry cargo, vehicles, artillery and troops and are designed to operate in naval environments. Given the importance of this naval role, the CH-53 was chosen as the target platform for this MMW technology.

Once the feasibility of this technology was demregisonstrated, the operational challenge was to reduce the overall "footprint" of the system as well as "positioning" the computer on the helicopter given the limited space available. These are the same issues confronted by most airborne retrofits; how to accommodate the restricted size, weight and power requirements of the aircraft. EM Photonics was successful in developing the smaller footregisprint and was subsequently awarded a follow-on Phase II.5 contract for $1.5 million (and a contract from the Office of Naval Research for the same amount of $1.5 milregislion as matching funds to further component reductions and complementary processing algorithms) for continued development of this MMW technology.

PSI was funded under an ONR Future Naval Capabilities project for developing a passive MMW imaging system that would ultimately be transitioned to NAVAIR PMA-261 for initial deployment on CH-53 helicopters. The combined efforts of these two firms provided complementary electronics and image proregiscessing algorithms. The electronics developed at EM Photonics enhanced the performance of this PSI MMW imaging system, as well as other MMW imagers.

The ultimate goal of this Commercialization Pilot Program (Phase II.5) was to design, build, and interegisgrate flight-ready custom electronics for a 220-chanregisnel MMW distributed-aperture imager. Expanding the EM Photonics design from a single-channel prototype (breadboard) environment to a 220-channel system ready for flight testing was a significant challenge. The prototype functionality had to be appropriately scaled while achieving the strict size, weight, power and operaregistional considerations of the CH-53 helicopter.

EM Photonics also addressed the need for exregistended field processing to achieve "real time imagregisery" since the raw MMW images were initially fuzzy and had distorted characteristics. Significant real time processing was necessary in order to improve the resregisolution of the captured image and to compensate for motion during imaging. To address these limitations, EM Photonics developed a novel hardware-based acregiscelerated processor specific for MMW imaging.

With regard to the Navy Opportunity Forum® (and subsequent Phase II.5 program) Eric Kelmelis, the CEO for EM Photonics commented: "We found working with Transition Assistance Program (TAP) to be overall a valuregisable experience, particularly the Navy Opportunity Forum®. We were able to make several contacts there that resulted in partnerships and helped secure our Phase II.5 funding."

This final EM Photonics design is scheduled for flight testing in June and October of 2012. Given success in this flight test scenario, this technology will benefit many sectors including military, security, and surveillance. Specific appliregiscations include situational awareness in DVEs, long-range imaging, automatic target recognition, weapons detection, situational awareness in hostile conditions, monitoring of harbors and coastal areas, and all-weather imaging.

Founded in 2001, EM Photonics is a recognized leader in accelerating computationally intense algorithms with commodity hardware platforms. Using off-the-shelf graphics processing units (GPUs) and custom-designed FPGA-based embedded hardware, they have applied their technologies to many applications requiring high computational performance in data center, desktop, and embedded system form factors. EM Photonics currently markets a number of accelerated simulation tools such as ATCOM, which is a family of accelerated image processregising tools used to compensate for atmospheric distortion. In addition to direct sales, they offer consulting services to government and prime contractors for algorithm acregisceleration and embedded system design.

Phase Matrix, Inc.
A National Instruments Company

Phase III Success: $2,000,000 in product sales


PHASE MATRIX WAS FORMED IN 1999 as a privately held California corporation. Since that time the company has been involved in the development and manufacturing of high quality, cost effective, RF and microwave test and measurement instruments as well as sophisticated RF/microwave components. Phase Matrix began its operations in a small facility within the "golden triangle" of Silicon Valley and gradually became a leading supplier of RF and microwave instrumentation to many DoD Test and Measurement programs (e.g., Air Force's [BAE] Improved Avionics Intermediate Shop (IAIS), Marine Corps' TETS & VIPER/T programs, Air Force's [Northrop Grumman] F-15 Downsized Tester) as well as major test equipment Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs.)

National Instruments (NI) became aware of Phase Matrix's technology back in the 2003-2006 time frame when Phase Matrix was working with BAE Mission Systems, a Phase II "Fast Track" sponsor, on the development of their PXI Downconverter hardware; NI equips engineers and scientists with tools that accelerate productivity, innovation and discovery, and is the world's leading supplier of PXI hardware and software. Consequently, a strategic alliance was formed between BAE Mission Systems, Phase Matrix, and National instruments promoting the concept of Radio Frequency/ Microwave (RF/MW) applications, such as Synthetic Instrumentation, employing the PXI platform. Through this relationship, National Instruments became interested in the Phase Matrix technology development of the PXI technology to expand their RF and microwave reach. Since this approach provided downconverters in the 100 KHz to 26.5 GHz range, it could potentially open the military K-Band market (at that time there were no commercially available downconverters covering this range with the PXI format). Subsequently, Phase Matrix was acquired as a wholly-owned subsidiary of National Instruments in May of 2011 due primarily to a culmination of the above events, as well as the deep professional and personal relationships garnered between both companies over the eight year time frame.

Phase Matrix launched their family of PXI RF/ MW Downconverter modules to the marketplace in September of 2009 at Autotestcon 2009, the premier DoD Automatic Test system conference. Since then, Phase Matrix has sold PXI modules to commercial, DoD, and international clients. National Instruments has since taken over the sales and distribution channel for this product line and is providing global sales and support while Phase Matrix focuses on RF/MW development on the PXI platform.

The key element required for movement to the PXI standard (initiated in the late 1990s time frame) was the need for a reduced "form factor" for the military and commercial test and measurement marketplaces. The PXI technology is designed for measurement and automation applications that require high performance and a rugged industrial form factor. At that time, RF/MW Down converters were available in a variety of large formats such as chassis mount assembly, rack mount assembly, or larger modular formats such as the VMEbus Extensions for Instrumentation (VXI). Hence the military's interest in developing a smaller "form factor" offered by the PXI technology represented a modular instrumentation platform targeted specifically for test and measurement and automation applications in support of smaller foot print "rack/stack" systems, transportable test systems, portable test systems, and (ultimately) embedded test systems. With PXI, the user could select the modules needed for a particular application and integrate them into a single PXI system from multiple vendors. Employing modular PXI test and measurement components in support of military automatic test systems mitigates test system obsolescence and provides a tractable upgrade path for test systems; these systems must continually keep up with ever-changing and expanding military test system requirements over their typical 20-30+ years of operational support life.

In the spring of 2009, Phase Matrix received a Phase II.5 award for continuing development, design and manufacturing of their PXI RF/MW technology. The primary objective of this "continuing development (CD)" contract was to validate a family of PXI Upconverter/ Synthesizer modules that, when integrated with supporting commercial off the shelf (COTS) components, would provide a 100 KHz-26.5 GHz stimulus generation and analog/digital modulation capability that complemented their Phase II Downconverter development. The resulting small form factor PXI stimulus source serves as a technology enabler for lighter and smaller portable and transportable "Synthetic Instrumentation" based test systems. This technology development also provides a replacement technology path in support of obsolete legacy instrumentation in both DoD and the commercial markets. A successful system demonstration of this Phase II.5 module set was conducted in the early October 2011 time frame in San Jose, CA for Navy, Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force representatives. Based on demonstration results and customer feedback, commercialization of the module set has been initiated.

Michael Granieri, Vice President of Advanced Programs and Business Development for Phase Matrix, offers this advice for SBIR neophytes: "I think it's extremely important to fully map out how your particular SBIR technology idea maps to the customer's problem set over the long term, who your potential partners or customers would/should be going forward, how your technology can employ or work within the context of industry standards, and how one can leverage your SBIR technology into the commercial space (dual use). These are challenging system/business level tasks - probably equally or more challenging than the very technology that you are developing! These issues should be addressed and validated prior to and during your Phase I development to insure some probability of success going forward."

As a wholly owned subsidiary of National Instruments, Phase Matrix will continue to support its existing customer base as well as providing National Instruments with a K-Band capability through this PXI technology. The senior management team consists of experienced individuals who have successfully designed, managed, and delivered world-class, high-quality, dual-use products in support of both commercial and military applications. National Instruments (, headquartered in Austin, TX has more than 6,600 employees and direct operations in more than 40 countries. For the past 13 years, Fortune magazine has named NI one of the 100 best companies to work for in America. The Best Places to Work Institute named NI one of the 25 "World's Best Multinational Workplaces" for the second consecutive year.

  • Binghamton Simulator Company
  • Creare, Incorporated
  • Griffin Analytical Technologies
  • NAVSYS Corporation
  • Softronics Limited
  • SRICO, Inc.
  • Techno-Sciences, Inc.
  • Trident Systems, Inc.
  • Weidlinger Associates, Inc.

Binghamton Simulator Company

Agency: Navy
2006 - 2007 Navy TAP Participant
More than $6M in government contracts and sales


Train like you will fight" is the motto that drives the Binghamton Simulator Company (BSC) in its quest for realism in its simulator products. From its helmet-mounted visualization systems, high-fidelity visual images provide accurate depth perception and extreme fidelity. The company has captured a realistic aircrew experience in a virtual training environment. The Navy's Aircrew Virtual Environment Trainer (AVET) provides helmet mounted displays that fit directly onto the air-crew's personal helmets via the Night Vision Goggle rails, thereby allowing aircrews to train with their own equipment rather than using special helmets. An all electric six-degree-of-freedom motion system allows aircrews to experience the realism of flight at a 90 degree orientation to their flight path. Real weapons, modified for training, provide the critical skills training that are needed to acquire and engage targets in realistic scenarios. This combination provides a rapidly changing, realistic environment that is as close to the real thing as possible.

How did BSC develop this rotary-wing simulator capability that allowed it to secure NAVAIR Phase III funding in excess of $6M? According to the BSC president, Terry Lewis, "BSC essentially started in the early 1990s as an outgrowth of the Link Flight Simulation Division of Singer Company. BSC started out as a simulation engineering and support company for training systems, worldwide. BSC pioneered the development of virtual aircrew training in the mid-90s. Working closely with the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Forces, BSC designed and built a simulation system to help train Aerial Gunners and Scanners. This training requirement had been identified as a critical need following the first mid-East war. Only one was fielded due to budget cuts and changing missions, but in early 2003, BSC, seeing a continuing need for this type of training, began research and development of an updated version of that original Special Operations Trainer."

The Navy H-60 Program had identified a need for improved aircrew communications and resource management. An SBIR Topic was developed in 2003 to assist in the research. BSC was awarded a Phase I and Phase II award for this Navy Topic. In concert with the SBIR effort, BSC invested more than a million dollars of its own money in a Demo Unit that would be shown at several industry events.

The simulations were initially oriented toward improved communications for the helicopter crews, but the number of issues to be addressed increased as the Navy began to see the benefits of this cost-effective training approach. The training requirement was extended to weapons training, as well as "hoist" training in its current configuration. Following delivery of the Prototype AVET (PAVET), the Navy conducted a test for 12 months at Norfolk, VA where they did an extensive evaluation, determining that the virtual environment not only saved approximately $10M versus live training, but additionally reduced the enlisted training mission failures (Downs) by 50 percent. Based on this success, BSC received a five year IDIQ for $25M with an initial order for $260,000 to write the AVET specification. The second order was for the production of the first AVET device, which is now at North Island NAS, San Diego, CA.

The $10M in cost savings is just the tip of the iceberg, which makes the technology even more enticing. Virtual training also extends the life of the aircraft, reduces ammunition cost, travel costs to and from the ranges and eliminates the EPA restrictions on aircraft during live training scenarios. The AVET system can simulate high-speed events and provide training for the critical skills and versatility needed in these extreme scenarios.

What gives BSC an edge is that they are providing the entire simulation system and the company is not working through a prime contractor, therefore it can control its "turnkey solution" by working directly with the organization needing its simulation system. For example, based on the power of the BSC Demo Unit, which the Swedish Defense Forces (SDF) saw at one of the industry shows, BSC was able to "rent" time on this Demo system to the SDF.

Through the successful work on this SBIR initiative, BSC has now teamed with a prime contractor on an Army requirement which has led to a contract for two mobile trailers, each containing two training units, with an expectation of more systems being required over the next several years.

Early recognition that the "requirement" for simulator training needs to be part of the Navy aerial gunner training procedures and manuals is one of the key elements in the BSC success in this venture. According to Lewis, "Now, the U.S. Navy has taken the lead in developing the Aircrew Virtual Environment Trainer and the simulator is integrated into the Navy training syllabus for helicopter aircrew members. For the first time, these mission-critical aircrew members will have the ability to train 24/7 in an environment that is very close to the real thing."

After attending the 2007 Navy Opportunity Forum®, Lewis acknowledged that it gave him a much broader view of the Navy's requirements. "Both the TAP Program and the Navy Opportunity Forum® gave me a better view of how the Navy operates," said Lewis. "SBIR firms need to understand the 'upstream' activities that influence the final decision making process. In the case of BSC, we learned that there was a distinct need to have the simulation process 'called out' in the training syllabus before the need could be recognized in a formal SBIR solicitation." An important lesson for SBIR firms to internalize.

Creare, Inc.

Agency: Navy
2007 - 2008 Navy TAP Participant
Phase III Success: $1.5M in contracts and licensing agreements


"When you know you have a great technology, stay with it," advised Jay Rozzi, a Principal Engineer at Creare, Inc. Considering the level of success that Creare has already secured-$1.5M in Phase III funding for a high-speed titanium machining process being the latest feather in their cap-it seems like sound advice. Located in Hanover, NH, Creare, Inc. is an engineering research and development firm that has been delivering engineering innovations for their clients for more than 50 years. Creare continues this tradition of innovation and exploration today in a multitude of areas, including advanced manufacturing.

Though high strength and low density make titanium and its alloys attractive for use in military aircraft, its high strength and low thermal conductivity concentrates heating at the cutting edge during machining. This limits the attainable processing speed, which in turn results in increased part costs. The excessive machining costs have limited the applications of titanium to the realm of high tech aircraft. Creare's innovation is the development of an internal cooling approach for cutting tools using small flows of liquid cryogens, which enables increased processing speeds and extends tool life up to 700 percent, markedly reducing the manufacturing cost of critical titanium parts.

Creare began developing this technology in 2004 when the company received its initial Phase I Navy SBIR contract. Most importantly, it was during this early period of development that Creare began working with a key prime contractor, Bell Helicopter - Textron (BHT). At that time, BHT was seeking a methodology for high-speed titanium machining for the V-22. Given its lighter weight and high performance characteristics, titanium was increasingly being used in new-build aircraft. Lockheed Martin was also interested in the Creare cooling technology for its F-35 production challenges. In fact, it was Lockheed Martin that secured funding as part of a larger F-35 initiative to enable the Phase III program.

"As long as they have a viable technology, it is important that SBIR firms go where the technology is needed," stated Rozzi. "We started working with Bell Helicopter (V-22) and Lockheed Martin (F-35) early in our technology development to assure that we understood their needs and their manufacturing issues. Through the support of NAVAIR, and the diligence of our SBIR Technical Monitor, Creare was selected as a NAVAIR CPP candidate in late 2007 for transition to the Program of Record. The key was getting the relevant prime contractors involved as early in the process as possible."

Based on its strong intellectual property position developed through this Navy SBIR project, Creare has signed a licensing agreement with MAG Industrial Automation Systems, the world's largest U.S.-based machine tool company. MAG is the global leader in metal cutting machine tools and automated composites equipment for the aerospace industry, and its machines are responsible for production of the F-35 titanium parts.

While the military applications for titanium production are important, this Creare technology has many commercial applications. Not only does it improve the titanium production process but it can be applied to ceramic matrix composites and stainless steel production as well. In fact, one of the more promising applications is in the medical field based on the elimination of coolants in their machining process.

Creare has been highly successful in the commercialization of SBIR-developed technology. Creare has commercialized SBIR technology internally via sales of custom or specialized hardware and software and engineering services contracts as well as externally through creation of spin-off companies and licensing of technology to third parties. To date, the firm can trace nearly $700M of revenues at Creare, the firm's spin-offs, and technology licensees to commercialization of Creare SBIR projects. In the last 13 years, Creare itself has averaged about 40 percent of total revenues from Phase III commercialization activities related to past SBIR projects. These activities were primarily in the form of contract development, fabrication and testing of specialized hardware and software.

Griffin Analytical Technologies, Inc.

Agency: Navy
2006 - 2007 Navy TAP Participant
Phase III Success: $5.7M in government contracts, equity funds, grants and product sales


It has been quite a trip! Griffin Analytical Technologies (Griffin) began as a small SBIR firm founded in 2001 to commercialize "ion trap" technology that was patented by Purdue University. In late 2005, Griffin completed a merger with DC-based Icx Technologies, Inc. (ICX), which was followed by an initial public offering in 2007. That road led to an acquisition by $1.5B industry leader, FLIR Systems, Inc. (FLIR) in August of 2010. It has been quite a trip, indeed!

While Griffin's history is brief, it has been significant. Griffin has moved from its small business origins to its current corporate role as part of the Detection and Protection Division of FLIR Government Systems. FLIR, as a global company, is focused on the design, manufacture, and marketing of thermal imaging and radar surveillance systems, chemical, biological, radiation and explosive detection products, and turn-key integrated sensor solutions to a list of customers that includes U.S. and foreign government agencies and military programs, as well as commercial organizations. Within the FLIR Detection and Protection Division, Griffin operates as FLIR Mass Spectrometry, offering its full range of GRIFFIN™ mass spectrometry systems and accessories.

Back in 2003, Griffin responded to a Navy SBIR to develop a field portable system for chemical analysis. At that time, there were no "field able chemical analysis" systems available that could provide real-time monitoring of hazardous compounds in complex samples. The GRIFFIN-proposed field-portable miniature mass spectrometer (MMS) was intended to meet this operational need. Development of this system would transform traditional sample-to-lab analysis to lab-to-sample analysis. The Navy thought that successful development of this concept would provide the ability to conduct high-end chemical analysis in the field, thereby offering a competitive advantage to U.S. armed forces.

After meeting the Phase II technical milestones, Griffin was awarded a MARCOR Phase III contract of approximately $1.2M for further development of its field portable units. Griffin also won an Indiana co-grant, which provided an additional $100,000 for product development. Interestingly, Griffin had an internal policy of supplementing SBIR awards (Navy, NSF, EPA, etc.) with equity funding, which reached a level of $2.5M in 2005. On the strength of this combined funding, Griffin completed development of its field portable, dual-use design and was able to sell additional GC/MS systems to commercial organizations, environmental monitoring companies, Homeland Security agencies and universities.

GRIFFIN™ mass spectrometers incorporate "cylindrical ion trap (CIT)" technology, which was originally developed at Purdue University and ultimately commercialized by Griffin. This significant advancement in mass spectrometer capability allows for the technology to be "utilized in the field" when it was previously only available in laboratories. Incorporating CITs into field units has reduced the power and vacuum requirements normally associated with laboratory systems while still achieving the analytical performance equivalent to traditional laboratory ion traps. The inherent design has dramatically reduced size of the overall units and provided the ultimate in spectral information through its ability to perform multi-dimensional analysis (MS/MS). MS/MS provides both a first-stage mass analysis to determine if a particular analyze of interest is in a sample and within milliseconds, a second-stage confirmation of the analyses' identity. Analysis this precise has never before been available in a field-portable GC/MS.

In the fall of 2005, Griffin merged as a wholly-owned subsidiary of ICX, a much larger company with more than 600 employees and $100M in investments in surveillance and detection technologies. Griffin continued development and production of its GRIFFIN GC/MS product line as part of the ICX Detection Division.

Field-portable mass spectrometry offered Icx an enhanced detection capability versus the standard laboratory technology for detecting, differentiating and identifying trace levels of chemical compounds in complex chemical environments. Mass spectrometers are uniquely sensitive and accurate. They extract chemical signatures from test samples much more quickly and accurately than is possible with alternative technologies. However, most conventionally designed units were too cumbersome to be deployed outside of the laboratory. As co-founder and president of Griffin, Dennis Barket, Jr., who is now the general manager of FLIR Mass Spectrometry, said, "Where chemical analysis was formerly a lengthy process that required bringing samples to the lab, GRIFFIN mass spectrometer systems have shifted the logistics paradigm from "sample-to-lab analysis" to "lab-to-sample analysis."

The GRIFFIN line of GC/MS products all utilize an isolation system initially developed under the NAVY SBIR. The isolation system allows the analytical components to resist shock and vibration. This protective system is integrated inside the casing allowing for quick transition in and out of deployable forensic labs, mobile environmental/incident response labs, and CBRNE reconnaissance vehicles. GRIFFIN GC/MS systems are also equipped with Griffin System Software (GSS). GSS contains a simplified graphical user interface, which allows both advanced users and beginners to interact with the GC/MS. The software is mission-specific capable, equipped with method selector tools and libraries.

The FLIR Mass Spectrometry flagship product is the Griffin 460 GC/MS, which can be used for on-site chemical identification. The Griffin 460 contains both an integrated liquid injector and air sampling port. The self-contained system can accept direct liquid injections via syringe or solid phase micro extraction (SPME) fibers. Should users wish to expand the capabilities of the system, the split/splitless liquid injection port easily accommodates a headspace sampler or autosampler. The air sampling module performs direct air analysis via a sampling line or by thermally desorbing samples from the Griffin™ X-Sorber. Water analysis may also be performed via the Griffin™ Purge & Trap accessory. No other GC/MS in the market has this range of flexibility and ease of use in the field, including both prep and prep-less sample introduction technologies.

In the fall of 2010, FLIR successfully completed a $268M acquisition of ICX. FLIR Systems, Inc. is a world leader in the design, manufacture and marketing of thermal imaging and stabilized camera systems for a wide variety of thermography and imaging applications. These include condition monitoring, research and development, manufacturing process control, airborne observation and broadcast, search and rescue, drug interdiction, surveillance and reconnaissance, navigation safety, border and maritime patrol, environmental monitoring and ground-based security. Now FLIR also has a full range of CBRNE detection equipment, making it a leader in the Detection and Protection market.

To go from a small 20 person organization with under $5M in revenue to a valued subsidiary of a billion dollar company in nine short years is a remarkable achievement for Griffin. "It was chiefly through the SBIR program, that we were able to get a foothold in the mass spectrometer market," said Barket. "Licensing the "cylindrical ion trap" technology from Purdue University was a crucial step, but the SBIR funding, including the assistance provided by the Navy TAP, was the fuel needed to push us forward into successful implementation of this portable technology and subsequently, into these excellent company mergers."

NAVSYS Corporation

Agency: Navy
2006 - 2007 Navy TAP Participant
Phase III Success: Nearly $4.2M in funding from the ONR and the U.S. Air Force and private sector


NAVSYS has been providing high quality technical products and services in GPS hardware design, systems engineering, systems analysis and software design to both government and commercial customers since its inception in 1986. Founded and still led by Dr. Alison Brown, NAVSYS is dedicated to promoting the use of GPS in a wide variety of commercial and military applications. NAVSYS pioneered GPS Network Assistance in the civilian community with key roles in enabling the FAA's Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) and the Wireless E911 system, among others. Today NAVSYS is committed to bringing those critical advantages to the military. The company provides specialized GPS products and services for customers through its unique technical expertise, innovative engineering approaches and high standards of excellence. NAVSYS offers services in three primary areas: Global Positioning Systems, Inertial Navigation Systems and Communication Systems.

In 2003, the Navy requested proposals for SBIR Topic N03-182, Integrated Communication Link and Global Positioning System (GPS) for Enhanced, Robust Position Information. The objective of this Topic was to, "Design and prototype a system that will use existing or planned naval communication systems to enhance standard GPS operation by connecting users in line-of-sight environments where GPS signals are partially blocked or jammed." NAVSYS responded with a highly innovative proposal to develop a GPS Network Assisted Positioning system (GPS-NAP).

GPS signals can deteriorate for a wide variety of reasons making the position and time information unreliable for mission-critical operations. In the event of GPS jamming, signals can be totally denied thereby prohibiting guidance and targeting of weapons systems. Network assistance can mitigate many of the causes of GPS signal degradation, but requires that there be a network connection to the GPS device. As next-generation military communications systems become available, network-assisted GPS links need to be developed to augment GPS-derived position, navigation and timing. This network assistance is needed to enhance both the reliability and precision of the position and navigation information.

For example, the Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) requires precision and reliability beyond that provided by conventional over-the-air GPS signals. Alison Brown, President and CEO of NAVSYS: "While GPS generally provides location accuracies of less than 1 meter, it can be off by as much as 10 meters at unpredictable times. You can imagine, being off by 10 meters with a small tactical bomb can render it useless, or worse, cause catastrophic collateral damage. Network assistance eliminates those excursions, making it much more reliable for mission-critical operations."

After a particularly successful showing in the 2007 Navy Opportunity Forum®, NAVSYS was awarded an ONR Broad Area Announcement (BAA) contract valued at $3.5M for Mine Countermeasures Precision GPS Ephemeris (MCM PGE), based largely on its successful GPS NAP SBIR Phase II demonstration. One of the objectives of this Precise Navigation and Marking Program was to improve the positioning and maneuvering accuracy of Mine Countermeasure (MCM) platforms; specifically those operating in the littorals in support of amphibious operations. This ONR program demonstrated the capability of Mine Countermeasure assets to both mark the location of underwater mines and navigate around them by using network assistance technology. MCM PGE makes it possible to clear narrower lanes through mine fields so that amphibious assault vehicles can get Marine Expeditionary Forces to shore and out of the risk zone faster.

Another capability directly related to GPS NAP is the Air Force NAMATH Program, developed by NAVSYS under a $3M contract initially with the Air Force TENCAP program and later transferred to the Air Combat Command. The system answered an Urgent Universal Need Statement (UUNS) by delivering precision GPS ephemeris information over tactical data links to improve accuracy for GPS-guided munitions. One of the chief advantages of this approach is that it can provide differential GPS (DGPS) accuracy worldwide without the need for in-area DGPS reference stations. NAMATH replaced a planned DGPS system that was going to cost $35M plus $5M per year to maintain, saving the DoD about $54M to date. The NAMATH system is currently operational in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Why is all this accuracy needed? Primarily for two improve the accuracy of the military's tactical weapons such as the Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) and to reduce collateral damage through greater targeting precision. According to Rick Edwards, NAMATH Program Manager for NAVSYS: "This is especially important in the urban battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan where implementation of the NAMATH system improves the effectiveness of tactical munitions while minimizing collateral damage."

In one of the company's many other current projects, NAVSYS is applying their Network Assistance concept to Software Defined Radios (SDR). NAVSYS is developing an embedded GPS application called GPS-Lite that can run on a radio in place of a hardware GPS solution to reduce size, weight, power and cost.

In all of these GPS endeavors, NAVSYS Corp-oration has become a premier provider of innovative navigation solutions. Their efforts were recognized in 2007 when they received a Tibbetts Award for development of the NAMATH Program.

Softronics Limited

Agency: Navy
2007 - 2008 Navy TAP Participant
Phase III Success: More than $2M in product sales


As Navy SBIR firms seek to transition their technology to the Fleet, they often run into the issue of pursuing Phase III money relentlessly while perhaps forsaking their company's need for continued technology development. Many firms struggle to balance these Phase III marketing demands against the needs of their on-going technology. One commercialization option is to confront this issue directly and embark on a "spin-off" strategy. Setting up a separate company that can focus exclusively on transitioning the Phase II technology to the Fleet can free the SBIR company to pursue its primary R&D mission. This is especially true when the SBIR firm is awarded a manufacturing contract to set up a production line that involves meeting MILSPEC requirements and ISO-9000 certification demands.

This was, in fact, the strategy pursued by Softronics, Ltd. once it finalized the design of its signal intelligence (SIGINT) product line. The two engineers, who designed and developed the RF tuners and digitizers while at Softronics, Ltd., set up Midwest Microwave Solutions and had the SBIR data rights transferred directly to them. With the assistance of the Softronics team, they undertook the production of these innovative, high performance receiver and RF digitizer products for SIGINT, COMINT, SDR, and ELINT applications. By 2008, the company had sold over $2M worth of their MSDR-3000 Receiver family to various military customers.

In 2004, Softronics had received an SBIR award for $599,825 from the Space and Naval Warfare Command (SPAWAR/San Diego) to design, build and flight test a miniature signal intelligence payload for miniature Unmanned Aeronautical Vehicles (UAVs). This technology represented a suite of equipment primarily aimed at minimizing the size of the SIGINT equipment needed for smaller payloads. At that time, current payloads were simply too large, heavy and power hungry to fulfill the needs of UAV, UGS, USV and UUV applications. Prior to this Softronics innovation, previous designs required large radios weighing upwards of 125 pounds to transmit large data loads down to surface terminals via the Common Data Link (CDL). Softronics studied the CDL requirements and provided a miniature CDL-compliant datalink transmitter.

Robert Sternowski, president of Softronics, said, "Once this design was complete, we recognized that the development and implementation of this technology would require a dedicated program team. In order for Softronics to focus on our primary mission as an intelligence provider, we would need to set up a separate company for the design and production of these Miniature Surveillance Digital Receiver (MSDR) systems."

Coincidentally, just as Softronics was completing its CDL miniaturization of the terminal, the Air Force issued a BAA with the same broad SIGINT objectives. Softronics was successful in responding to this BAA with its recently created CDL-compliant datalink; thereby expanding the customer base for these SIGINT products.

The specific Softronics technology is comprised of three separately usable but synergistic pieces of equipment all focused on advanced radio technologies:

  • Wideband SIGINT Receiver: a 30-2500 MHz SIGINT receiver that provides fast tuning, sophisticated DSP signal analysis and demodulation, and high speed FFT search/alarm. GPS-time-tagged samples can be downlinked for geolocation, as well as, further advanced analysis.
  • Wideband Relay: a 30-2500 MHz relay receives a user-defined frequency bandwidth and center frequency, and linearly retransmits it (with a 1 watt sideband Silicon Carbide power amplifier) at a separately defined frequency. Intended for "special signals" requiring ground processing, the relay operates identically to a traditional "bent pipe" linear (non-processing) satellite transponder, with the exception that the input and output frequencies are remotely tunable on-the-fly by the user.
  • High-speed Datalink: a miniature CDL-compliant datalink transmitter provides 10.71 mbps digital communication from the platform to a data collection node. The 15 GHz datalink provides all the features of its much larger, traditional predecessors, and can interoperate with existing CDL-compliant surface terminals.

Regarding the Navy Transition Assistance Program (TAP), Sternowski felt that they made some excellent contacts through the Forum event but emphasized that current SBIR firms need to focus on a specific business need. "SPAWAR did an excellent job in spreading the word throughout the Navy of our CDL-compliant datalink and was an extremely helpful sponsor," said Sternowski. "However, SBIR firms need to sell jointly to both prime contractors and government agencies in order to communicate the value of their technology. Softronics was fortunate to have a clear business target that related directly to its core competence."

Softronics, Ltd. is a veteran-owned, privately held, small business focusing on the U.S. Government market for advanced radio and SIGINT equipment. Softronics is CCR-registered, DCAA-approved and possesses high-level security credentials and facilities. The staff boasts over 500 combined years of professional experience in radio engineering. The company's in-house CAD allows them to model, simulate and design circuits, printed circuit boards, mechanical components, and firmware/software, with a well-equipped lab for test and verification. Mechanical parts transmit directly from the designer's SOLIDWORKS computer output to our precision CNC machine shop.


Agency: Navy
2007 - 2008 Navy TAP Participant
Phase III Success: $6.5M DARPA contract


"It takes stamina, persistence and vision to be successful in the SBIR world," according to Sri Sriram of SRICO, Inc. SRICO has certainly been successful since it received a 2006 Navy SBIR award for the development of non-invasive electric field sensors to investigate the susceptibility of complex electronic equipment when exposed to High Power Microwave (HPM) sources. High Power Microwave is a form of directed energy weapons system, which use electromagnetic radiation to deliver heat, mechanical, or electrical energy to a target to cause pain or permanent damage. HPMs can be used against humans, electronic equipment and military targets depending on the technology.

The Program of Record for this SBIR is the Joint Non-lethal Weapons Program chaired by the Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps for Plans, Policies, and Operations. The purpose of this Program is to provide war fighters a family of non-lethal weapon systems with a full spectrum of threats and crises. Non-lethal weapons are defined as "weapons, devices and munitions that are explicitly designed and primarily employed to immediately incapacitate targeted personnel or materiel, while minimizing fatalities, permanent injury to personnel and undesired damage to property in the target area or environment. Non-lethal weapons are intended to have reversible effects on personnel and material."

As a result of the development of these new HPM weapons, new instrumentation to measure the HPM effects for both development and protection are needed as well. New probes that sense the horizontal and vertical components of the electric field inside a target over the full frequency range are required. Since the electromagnetic wave front changes as it propagates inside a target, miniature dielectric probes that can be installed inside a target must be developed.

SRICO has been developing its photonics electric field sensor technology for over 20 years with a goal of dramatically improving sensor performance. Commercially available lithium niobate electro-optical sensor probes are currently limited to about 100 milli Volt up to a maximum frequency of 10 GHz. Improved materials, new sensor designs and innovative manufacturing techniques are needed to achieve upwards of 100 GHz performance.

Better ferroelectric materials have the potential to dramatically enhance the capabilities of optical waveguide electric field sensor probes for use in Directed Energy and High Power Microwave (HPM) test environments. The SRICO sensor eliminates the use of an antenna or metal connections that can interfere with accurate measurement and characterization of the electromagnetic environment. The complete instrumentation system includes laser source, optical receiver, and the electric field sensor component.

The NAVAIR TPOC, Kelly McDonald, worked diligently to open doors for SRICO in the Air Force, Marine Corps and NAVAIR, eventually securing NAVAIR 2.5 SBIR funding. This led to the sale of four Photonic Electric Field Sensors for a total of $200K. On the strength of their Phase II performance, SRICO began marketing its sensor concepts to other government agencies.

As a result of its persistence and vision, SRICO was successful in securing a $6.5M DARPA BAA award for further sensor development (Phase III funding of its NAVAIR technology). Sriram said, "Over 20 years ago, I had the vision that new types of electro-optic sensor designs and improved materials would be needed for E-field measurement over a wide frequency range, with extremely high-sensitivity. It was our perseverance through many technical challenges that allowed us to eventually secure this substantial DARPA contract."

SRICO specializes in the design, development, manufacture, and worldwide marketing of high performance integrated optical components and subsystems for optical signal transmission, sensing, and measurement applications. Since its founding in 1990, the company has been involved in cutting-edge scientific and engineering research and product development with a view to meeting future global demand for high performance, high speed, small size, low cost optical chip-based components. SRICO provides technology and product development services to both government and industry and does custom product design for clients worldwide.

The company has significant expertise in the design and development of advanced photonics electric field and voltage sensors, from very low to very high frequency requirements, for a variety of military and civilian applications. SRICO has won two prestigious R&D-100 Awards for its innovative sensor products and currently has seven patents. In addition to sensing and measurement applications, the company also specializes in high performance photonics components and optoelectronic subsystems for signal transmission in optical communications networks. SRICO products include sideband photonics e-field and voltage sensors & systems; all-optical electrophysiological (EEG & EKG) sensors; high-speed electro-optic modulators; periodically poled lithium niobate (PPLN) devices; frequency converters; and fiber optic links.

Techno-Sciences, Inc.

Agency: Navy
2006 - 2007 Navy TAP Participant
Phase III Success: $70M in SPAWAR contracts


Techno-Sciences (TSi), a 36 year old high-technology company headquartered in Beltsville, MD, has extensive experience with the Navy, NASA, ARL, NRL and many other government organizations. It is primarily focused on four main technology sectors: Systems engineering, Aerospace engineering, Search and Rescue systems (COSPAS/SARSAT), and Trident integrated maritime operations management and information systems. This last sector provides shipboard and shore stations with information gathering, processing, management, and display systems to enhance Maritime Domain Awareness.

It is in this latter category that Techno-Sciences was successful in securing Phase III funding in excess of $70M under multiple Integrated Maritime Surveillance Systems programs managed by PMW-740. These systems incorporate communications management technology developed in support of the Special Operations Command SBIR SOCOM02-006. The kernel of their success was the maturation of their "Bridge Communications System" that was designed to provide an automated system to manage various forms of data communications (voice, email, images, etc.) through existing onboard communications channels.

Military radios generally use secure DoD networks to communicate with specified command centers. Often such communications are conducted via voice-based systems. To obviate this need for "active" attention, the ability to automatically send and receive data seamlessly through secure military radios was a necessity identified across DoD. Initially secure radios were used only for voice communications and did not have the functionality to communicate text messages or images. While proprietary software was available to send emails over a satellite link, it required substantial manual intervention on the part of an operator. Techno-Sciences overcame these limitations with its integrated Bridge Communications System (BCS) which provided automated data exchange from on-board systems without tying up a "live operator". In remote locations, crews needed an automated system that would manage their outgoing communications while providing them with command activities pertinent to mission critical data.

Specifically these systems were targeted at small combat crafts (11 meter range) known as Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) deployed in remote locations. Beyond the automated capabilities, these RHIB based units also needed to be sufficiently "ruggedized" to withstand the harsh environments (high shock, high heat, possible flooding). Providing this capability was the essence of TSi's BCS concept.

TSi successfully matured and transferred the core communications management technology from this initial SBIR program to automatically relay target track data, radar and camera imagery, and text communications between afloat and ashore sensor nodes and central command centers in comprehensive Integrated Maritime Surveillance Systems (IMSS). On the strength of its technical accomplishments, beginning in October 2006 and continuing over the next two years, Techno-Sciences was awarded four sole source SPAWAR contracts, ultimately totaling in excess of $70, to provide, install, train and support IMSS for Indonesia and Malaysia to combat piracy and terrorism. In Indonesia this system provided a network of eighteen shore-based coastal surveillance stations, eleven ship-based sensor and communications packages, and four regional and fleet command and control centers spanning the Indonesian coast along the Strait of Malacca and the Sulawesi Sea. In Malaysia it provided eight coastal surveillance stations and a regional command center to monitor the eastern coast of Sabah on the Sulu and Sulawesi Seas.

Indicative of the significance of this deployment, Admiral Mike Mullen, the current Commander of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was then the Chief of Naval Operations, said that, "Coordinated operations by Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore to counter piracy and terrorist movements around the Strait of Malacca-clearly a model maritime network." This concept fit nicely into the "1,000 ship Navy" being advanced by the U.S. Navy at that time wherein vessels and related naval assets from different countries would work together to keep order on the high seas. Mullen further stated, "I believe an international '1,000 ship Navy,' offers a real opportunity to increase partner nation capabilities while reducing transnational crime, WMD proliferation, terrorism and human trafficking."

TSi is proud of the fact that these SPAWAR contracts and that TSi's product line grew out of a Special Operations Command SBIR that started as a modest Phase I contract and grew into multiple multi-million dollar Phase III contracts and other related awards; a classic SBIR commercialization success story. Although they received no Plus-Up money, TSi still made a point of notifying their local Congressional representatives and Small Business offices of their SBIR successes, letting them know the impact SBIR has had on the local community.

While TSi's participation in the 2007 Navy Forum itself did not lead to any direct contracts, it provided substantial visibility across Navy Program Managers and prime contractors for this relatively small 80 person company. "The biggest value that the Transition Assistance Program provided Techno-Sciences was the honing of our message for our capabilities brochure and the assistance provided us in defining ourselves as an 'innovation in engineering' company," said Kurt Kacprzynski, vice president of TSi's Trident Division. "It helped us take a hard look at who we are and what we were offering just as we began playing in the big leagues, and helped us to refine our technology transition and business plans accordingly. The TAP program was helpful in providing experienced resources to guide us and push us when necessary. Dr. Jenny Servo's Business Planning for Scientists and Engineers book that we used during the TAP has been borrowed from my office more times than I can count."

Trident Systems, Inc.

Agency: Navy
2006 - 2007 Navy TAP Participant
Phase III Success: $4M from the Navy and Marine Corps and a $20M IDIQ from SOCOM


"Flexibility is the key...don't rely on the expectation that prime contracts (or Programs of Record) will necessarily provide Phase III funding, but listen to what your SYSCOM really needs!" That is the recommendations from Mike Casey, Director of Business Development at Trident Systems, successful recipient of a $20M Special Operations Command Phase III IDIQ.

"SBIR firms need to be especially tactical in assessing what the Navy and other military branches need in the search for end product solutions," said Casey. "In our case, the SOCOM requirements were emerging and we needed to be flexible and agile in our response to their changing needs."

Casey's advice, which comes from the vantage point of more than two decades in the defense market, could be very helpful to SBIR firms in search of Phase III funding. Meeting the Phase II technical specifications is the minimum expectation that most SYSCOMs have for their sponsored projects. Essentially, they are looking for end-point solutions that may bring together several Navy requirements into a more robust solution. That is what Trident Systems realized in addressing the NAVAIR sponsored SBIR to provide "enhanced image capture and transfer capability."

From the initial SBIR solicitation, it was clear that there existed theater mission needs to support persistent information and intelligence collection in denied areas. Naval Expeditionary Forces and Special Operations Forces (SOF) lacked the technical means to enable persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) in a timely manner. Critical information was not being rapidly relayed to decision makers, actionable intelligence and preemptive cues were not available due to "stove piped" systems that were not properly networked or optimized. The overall Navy need addressed by the Trident Systems technology was the ability to deploy and maintain a persistent, clandestine, and unattended network of sensors in regional conflicts.

Trident was quick to recognize that this was essentially a "communications issue"-the need to rapidly get the data from the enhanced network to the proper ISR operator. There was already a process in place for gathering intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information from tactical locations. The majority of intelligence is collected by National Technical Means (NTMs). One of the challenges was to complement the strategic collection by the NTMs with more rapid communications of the ISR information to the appropriate decision makers. The Trident approach focused on optimizing the wireless radios within environmentally hardened but miniaturized form factors. Transporting the information from the ground sensors to the end users provided the endpoint solution being sought by the Special Operations Command.

While there were a variety of network sensors and data nodes (low data rate, high data rate, as well as a Wireless Node Controller) needed under this SBIR, it turned out that the overall schedule was the main issue of concern to SOCOM. Trident Systems, Inc. was successful in meeting the timetable and sensor specifications of SOCOM and received a $20.3M IDIQ contract. They have fulfilled thirteen delivery orders against this IDIQ. Additionally, Trident Systems was awarded a $3M contract from the Marines, as well as a $1M from the Navy to develop additional communication links.

Today, Trident's family of hand-deployed unattended sensor products are optimized to meet persistence, environmental (MIL-STDs 810F, 461E), and transportability needs and can be deployed as an independent system or integrated into existing systems for a variety of tactical surveillance and force protection scenarios. The company's core competencies include Systems Engineering, Custom Hardware Design and Manufacturing Oversight and Software Development. Headquartered in Fairfax VA, Trident also has facilities in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Washington and California-employing a total of more than 140 employees.

Although Trident Systems, Inc. has been in business for over 20 years and has products that are currently deployed with the U.S. Army and Marine Corps Forces, Casey felt that the Transition Assistance Program and the Navy Opportunity Forum® were valuable experiences for the overall organization. "The biggest value for this company was the way that the TAP program made us focus on the market and the product. Based on our TAP experience and the Navy Opportunity Forum®, we would recommend this Navy sponsored program to other small businesses currently in the SBIR program," he said. And as far as additional advice for an SBIR firm as it moves through the channels to Phase III, "In concept, incorporation into a Program of Record (POR) or adoption by a prime contractor is a logical objective of a Phase II initiative," said Casey. "However, SBIR firms need to be vigilant in their pursuit of the true 'end product' being sought by the Navy. Needs are constantly changing and may be evolving to a more sophisticated requirement throughout the three year SBIR time frame."

Weidlinger Associates, Inc.

Agency: Navy
2006 - 2007 Navy TAP Participant
Phase III Success: Nearly $3M in government contracts and $10M IDIQ contract from NAVSEA


Since the early 1980s and even more so since the tragic events of Sept. 11 2001, Weidlinger's Associates engineers have used internally developed software to provide timely and accurate support for blast vulnerability assessments, blast-resistant design and forensic investigations of terrorist attacks. This background led the firm's engineers to address the Navy's need for a non-explosive solution to their full ship shock testing requirements. By Congressional mandate, the U.S. Navy is required to conduct a full ship shock test (FSST) on each new class of ship used in combat. Ships must be able to withstand the effects of underwater explosions (UNDEX) as part of their design integrity. These tests have been traditionally done using high explosives, which cost upwards of $30M per certification. upwards of $30M per certification. A major part of this expense is the movement of the warship to an isolated location that is then monitored by helicopters and other surface vessels to prevent disruption or interference during the actual shock tests. As can be imagined, environmental groups have raised objections to these explosive tests due to their negative impact on area sea life.

Weidlinger Associates was successful in developing and patenting a non-explosive alternative to this Navy live fire approach using an array of air guns to simulate the effects of shocks associated with the underwater explosions. The array is charged using high-pressure gas which is released very rapidly producing a high intensity acoustic wave in the water. A tunable array of air guns of different sizes can be fired both simultaneously or out of phase to produce a very controlled and repeatable shock to the ship. Under these conditions, these tests can be conducted in virtually any location - a naval yard or a dockside environment - thereby eliminating the need for the ships to be moved to a fire-controlled area. By conducting these tests in a non-remote environment, this air gun approach has both eliminated the expense of the attendant vessels as well as reduced the environmental impact of the live fire conditions.

Raymond Daddazio, president and CEO of Weidlinger Associates, said "These live fire tests take upwards of 4-6 weeks to conduct and require detonation of 10,000 to 40,000 pounds of high explosives. While these tests had an excellent safety record, they did raise concerns regarding their environmental impact. Our air gun approach has virtually eliminated the environmental issues while saving the U.S. Navy considerable expense by eliminating the need to transport these ships and crews to a controlled location."

In Weidlinger's method, high-pressure shock pulses that emanate from air reservoirs are generated very close to the vessel to induce a ship response similar to that produced by explosives. They produce an analogous test for a fraction of the cost of conventional tests. Air guns pose little risk to personnel and property, or fish and sea mammals, because the source is less severe and the energy goes directly into the ship's structure rather than into the environment. The only by-product is the air that powers the air guns. Tests can be completed within the Naval base environment in a small fraction of the time needed for explosives tests, since costly and time-consuming travel to distant sites is no longer necessary.

Based on the success of this air gun approach, Weidlinger Associates was awarded a Phase III IDIQ contract (Five year-$10M contract) by NAVSEA for further development of their technology; along with congressionally directed funding for $2.6M. Additionally, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Director Operational Test & Evaluation (OSD/DOT&E) jointly funded a demonstration of this approach with the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence using one of UK's decommissioned ships. Based on the success of this demonstration and the congressional funding, the Navy was successful in budgeting $117M for the execution of a comprehensive program, beginning in FY11, to develop and validate an alternative approach to full scale shock trials. As one can imagine, many operational elements need to be addressed along with the legislative issues to accomplish this significant transition from explosive testing. The Navy is pursuing a combined approach of computational structural mechanics modeling coupled with this air gun testing to assure the results are providing the full shock assessments required to meet the Navy's requirements. The Navy estimates a savings of $159M in T&E avoidance in its 30 year shipbuilding program.

Regarding the value of the Navy Transition Assistance Program (TAP), Daddazio stated, "I think the real value of the TAP was the opportunity it provided to really sit down and focus on the steps to get to a TRL 8/9 level of performance. That exercise was extremely useful for developing the Narrative Briefing documents and Quad Chart for the Navy Opportunity Forum®. The Navy provides SBIR companies with an excellent Forum that is structured around a valuable 15 minute presentation that can be used after the event for briefings with parties interested in the technology."

Weidlinger Associates is a structural engineering firm of 300 employees generating $63M in 2010 revenue. For more than 60 years, Weidlinger Associates has been known for its professionalism, innovative solutions and diversified practice. Much of Weidlinger's software was developed to support contracts with the Department of Defense. It is clear that these defense oriented technologies also play an important part in providing protection to civilian buildings, bridges and infrastructure which are as vulnerable to attacks as any military installation or Navy warship.

  • Accurate Automation Corp.
  • Advanced Technology & Research
  • Concepts Research Corporation
  • Galois, Inc.
  • Innovative Defense Technologies
  • Out of the Fog Research
  • Power + Energy, Inc.
  • QUASAR Federal Systems, Inc.
  • SimVentions
  • Systems Technology, Inc.
  • Ultra Communications

Accurate Automation Corporation

Agency: Navy
Phase III Success: More than $5M in contracts from the Navy and a major Prime Contractor


The U.S. Navy has a roadmap which provides a vision for future development and deployment of Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs). According to the Navy Unmanned Surface Vehicle Master Plan, "USVs will augment current and future platforms to deliver enhanced steady-state and surge capability. This will help to deter the enemy on regional, trans-national, as well as global fronts. USVs are highly automated to reduce communication/data exchange requirements and operator loading. They will deploy and retrieve devices, gather, transmit, or act on all types of information, and engage targets with minimal risk or burden to U.S. and Coalition Forces." Although the master plan identifies a goal of 2020 to, "develop and effectively meet the Navy's strategic planning and Fleet objectives and the force transformation goals of the Department of Defense (DoD)," Accurate Automation Corporation with its collaborators has a head start on the competition, and is well positioned to make a meaningful contribution to the country's national defense efforts.

Accurate Automation Corporation, headquartered in Chattanooga, Tenn., is a high-tech developer of intelligent systems for control and signal processing. The company was founded in 1985, and has been building unmanned systems since its inception. During that period of time, the company has won 14 Navy SBIR Phase II awards-many of which have successfully transitioned to Phase III. According to Robert Pap, co-founder and president of Accurate Automation Corporation, his company, "serves as a showcase for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program by demonstrating that small business holds the key to future technological growth in the United States." Although Accurate Automation Corporation has had many SBIR successes, one of their most successful projects was topic number N04-128, Unmanned Surface Vehicle Autonomous Maritime Seaway Navigation.

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) originally sponsored this SBIR topic because they understood that the Navy would use USVs to perform various missions in the future. Specifically, they wanted to develop a USV capable of stable performance in an ocean environment while transiting over some distance to reach their mission area, and then perform additional maneuvering or stationkeeping while executing the mission. To perform these actions, the USV would require an autonomous system on-board the USV to assist the craft in navigating through waves, optimizing course and speed to maximize fuel efficiency. It would have to have reliable power available and be immune to various environmental conditions.

Leveraging more than 15 years of experience in building unmanned aircraft, Accurate Automation Corporation developed a USV that uses an adaptive control system that is Joint Architecture for Unmanned Ground Systems (JAUS) compliant. According to Mr. Pap, "Using an adaptive control system instead of a rigid algorithm allows us to have a learning algorithm." Their USV also takes advantage of network centric communications and can survive hostile electronic attack. Collectively, these approaches allow their USV to navigate autonomously while avoiding obstacles. Other technical features include, "their anti-porpoising detection and compensation system, real-time telemetry and data acquisition, and unique capabilities such as intelligent wave navigation, multi-ship operation, formation and automated launch and recovery."

The company found success with this topic rather quickly - they found their customer while at the Navy Opportunity Forum®. As with other participating TAP companies that year, Accurate Automation Corporation presented their solution at the 2006 Navy Opportunity Forum. According to Mr. Pap, "While we were at the Forum an admiral came around and asked if we were ready for prime time. After a brief discussion, he made a phone call to ONR, and someone came to look at our USV. They then volunteered to use us for a transition to Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, which was a big Phase III." Pap said that the successful commercialization of this technology was primarily based on two factors: the company's ability to develop and demonstrate an innovative approach to USVs and successfully completing the Navy TAP. "The TAP, the Forum and Dawnbreaker staff made this success a reality. There is no way to fully thank them for all that they have done and continue to do," said Pap.

Based on the success of this and other SBIR topics, Mr. Pap has been able to grow his company. However, he is most proud of what his team has accomplished by delivering complete USVs to the warfighter. To date, Accurate Automation Corporation has delivered more than a half dozen USVs, with more in production. The company recently received a letter of commendation from the undersecretary of defense for coalition warfare. "This letter recognized Accurate Automation Corporation for something that was above and beyond the call of duty, and it is very special to us," Pap said.

Additional funding has been provided by Quick Reaction Funding (QRF) from OSD and using the USV's as testing platforms from experiments in "Dynamic Engine Stopping Experiments" for NRL. Accurate Automation and Naval Surface Warfare Center at Dahlgren used an ocean racing hull to demonstrate the Naval Expeditionary Overwatch (NEO) USV with the Gunslinger payload for a Limited Military Utility Assessment (LMUA).

"Key parts of the success in the NEO USV are working with the Navy Labs and primes. Do not be afraid to have other technologies involved in the testing. The LMUA had real naval operators as users of the technology with their ideas exposing potential blemishes that needed to be addressed before becoming a real program. In addition, other SBIR companies as collaborators allow for additional intellectual capital in the evaluation. It takes more than one Phase II to make it to Phase III and all the Phase II's do not have to be from your company."

Advanced Technology & Research Corporation

Agency: Navy
Phase III Success: $2.1M in government funding.


Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) are becoming increasingly successful in their deployment for land-based forces in the Middle East and around the world. UAS have been used for tracking of key militants in remote areas as well as being used to launch missiles on enemy locations. Given their unmanned nature, UAS have the distinct advantage of not putting U.S. personnel at risk, and they bring an additional advantage of providing extended "fly time" for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. Land-based systems vary in size from the hand-launched Raven, to larger tactical units (RQ7 Shadow, RQ-8 Fire Scout) and up to the largest systems, which include the ocean-crossing Global Hawk and the weaponized Predator-B "Reaper," known for combating insurgents in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

However, adoption of UAS for use aboard Navy ships is not as advanced as in land-based applications, largely due to the challenges of launch and recovery (L&R) at sea. While pneumatic launchers can serve to put fixed wing UAS into flight, recovery is extremely problematic. No ships other than aircraft carriers have runways, and the small flight decks of other "aviation-capable" Navy ships are suitable only for Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) vehicles. In addition, one must deal with the significant velocities of the UAS relative to the ship, the proximity of ship superstructure and personnel to the landing zone, turbulence from the ship's airwake, wind gusts and potentially large sea-induced deck motions.

Advanced Technology & Research Corp (ATR) addressed these issues with its ONR-sponsored SBIR entitled "Stable Platform Module for Ships (N04-225)." Their "macro-micro" technology features a "macro" robotic arm to position a UAS capture device over the side of the ship and out of the strongest turbulence induced by the ship superstructure. The end of the arm is stabilized against ship motion to offer a stable target for the UAS. The UAS is captured by a "micro" mechanism that adjusts for UAS tracking errors on approach, acquires the UAS by means of a cable catching a hook mounted to the top of the UAS, and then controls cable pay-out and tension to achieve a graceful arrest. The system is intended for safe recovery of fixed wing UAS in the 100-1000 lb. range and is designed to be compact and modular for easy storage aboard smaller vessels.

While ATR was successful in achieving TRL 4 on some parts of its system by the completion of its Phase II, additional funding was needed to develop other parts of the system and to build a demonstration model of the full system at a useful scale. Their breakthrough came from DARPA, which had a long-term vision for shipboard launch and recovery systems capable of handling large fixed wing UAS (upwards of 1,000 lbs). While this DARPA vision, dubbed "SeaCatcher," had somewhat different design objectives, the ATR approach to UAS recovery offered a promising approach for handling much larger UAS as well. Through a DARPA "Seedling" project in 2007, ATR was first provided $500,000 in funding in support of this Navy Phase III development effort.

Serendipitously, full scale for a system geared to the mid-size UAS of interest to the Navy today is roughly the same size as a reduced-scale Advanced Technology demonstrator (ATD) version of the SeaCatcher system. A SeaCatcher ATD thereby provides a vehicle to demonstrate the viability of L&R technologies deployable in the mid-term as well as the long-term.

In 2009, ATR was awarded a contract under a DARPA Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) to focus on the design, build and testing of the "macro arm" part of its recovery system. The objective of this $1.6M effort is to prove that the end of a large-scale robotic arm fixed to a ship moving under elevated sea states could be controlled well enough to hold an end-mounted UAV capture mechanism stable. Additionally, it will demonstrate a robust structure able to sustain the forces of high accelerations during UAV launch and recovery.

Eric Rees, the Chief Operating Officer for ATR, cited the fact that the Navy SBIR companies need to explore every avenue available to them when searching for Phase III funding. Rees: "The Navy Opportunity Forum® was a very successful event for ATR. The traffic at our booth from Navy PMAs/PMSs/PEOs and prime contractors was strong. We were able to build on the information in our formal presentation and engage in wide-ranging conversations about the Navy's unique needs and desires for UAS operations."

Additionally, Rees recommended getting to know Congressional representatives to help build awareness of your company's technology development efforts. Having recently relocated ATR to Columbia, Md., Dr. Jackson Yang, ATR's Owner, President & CEO, and Eric Rees, took the opportunity to introduce the company to its new Congressional representatives. "It was not so hard to get time with Congressional offices to discuss exciting new initiatives that are relevant to defense stories appearing regularly in the headlines," said Rees. "Your home state delegation is an important resource that many SBIR companies could utilize more frequently to build awareness and interest in their company, technologies and job-creation potential."

ATR is a well-established engineering-focused company with over 30 years experience in defense contracting, with emphasis on the U.S. Navy. In addition to its engineering services forte in weapons effects analysis, modeling and simulation, the company has two decades of experience in the development and production of automation and robotic systems for military and industrial applications. The company develops its control software based on a particular methodology and toolset ideally suited for the integration of multiple technologies and systems to address complex problems such as ship-based launch and recovery of UAS.

ATR is the principal developer of control systems for Oceaneering International in ONR's Large Vessel Interface Load-On Load-Off (LVI-Lo/Lo) program, which involves ship motion compensation to enable the transfer of cargo containers between ships while underway in high sea states. ATR has primed government-customer automation system R&D and manufacturing programs up to the $10M range.

Concepts Research Corporation

Agency: Navy
Phase III Success: More than $3.3M in product sales.


One of the principal objectives of the Navy SBIR/STTR Program is to stimulate small company technology development and to foster commercialization of the resulting technology. As stated in the SBIR/STTR Overview:

"The Navy's SBIR/STTR Programs are primarily mission oriented, providing companies the opportunity to become part of the national technology base that can feed both the military and private sectors of the nation. To that end, the Navy incorporates into its Phase II component, the emphasis on the small business' need to market its technology to both military and private sectors."

Given this underlying philosophy of marketing to both the military and private sectors, the Navy SBIR/STTR Program has provided many companies with early development funding that allowed them to gain a foothold in the market and then successfully transition its technology to the private sector. This initial funding allows companies to establish a "proof of concept" (Phase I) and achievement of a sufficient Technology Readiness Level of 4-5 (Phase II) to secure additional Phase III funding; generally from the Prime Contractors or private sector.

This is exactly the scenario experienced by Concepts Research Corporation with its microchip laser development. In 2005, Concepts Research responded to a NAVAIR solicitation targeting replacement of the existing fuze technology which was over 20 years old and rapidly becoming obsolete. The target platform for this "microchip laser" was the Navy AIM-9X Sidewider Missile Block II upgrade to improve the missile performance. A new microchip laser design was needed with increased energy output and additional system bandwidth. The specific technology addressed the redesign of the "active optical target detector" that uses reflected laser energy by the microlaser to detect missile targets.

Concept Research proceeded to develop a miniature opto-electronic packaged solid-state laser producing high pulse rates and sub-nanosecond pulses capable of kilowatt peak powers. One of the key elements in this redesign related to the manufacturability of these extremely small devices (one to two millimeters long). Implementation of a well-defined manufacturing process was needed to produce the technology in the volumes required to meet the customer's requirements.

The Navy and Raytheon provided the initial funding to underwrite the manufacturing processes and provide the pre-production equipment used by Concepts Research to deliver the early microchip lasers. In addition to development of these manufacturing processes, a robust packaging methodology was needed to provide reliable and operationally sustainable devices. Once these manufacturing and packaging processes were established and documented, NAVAIR proceeded to consolidate the subsequent manufacturing with Raytheon, which had an established ISO 9000 certified manufacturing operation.

With this shift to Raytheon for the microchip production, Concept Research was able to purchase the pre-production equipment and clean room from the government by placing a formal bid to acquire the equipment. The Navy provided infrastructure and the technical "know-how" developed under this SBIR to put Concept Research in an excellent position to leverage this technology in the commercial marketplace. The company consequently began pursuing commercial applications of the technology in the areas of printing, surveying and medical sterilization.

Concepts Research Corporation now offers a line of mil-spec microchip laser devices. These passively Q-switched microchip lasers emit sub-nanosecond, high-peak-power pulses from industry standard opto-electronic packages. It has sold over $1.5M in microchip lasers to the surveying and scanner industries and is currently experiencing $1.8M annually in sales of these microchip lasers. In June 2009, RPMC Lasers, Inc. was selected as sole international distributor for Concepts Research Corporation lasers.

According to Brian Peterson, the principal investigator, "We would not be having our current commercial success in the Survey and Scanner System field if it were not for our initial funding through the NAVAIR SBIR. This funding allowed Concepts Research to establish this high tech solution for the Navy and then transition this technology to commercial applications." Peterson further stated that, "The Navy Opportunity Forum® and the Transition Assistance Program were excellent networking opportunities that provided quite a few leads from PMA 261, Ford Motor Company and Lockheed Martin to mention just a few."

Concepts Research Corporation is a Wisconsin based corporation with locations in Bemgium, Wisconsin and Charlotte, North Carolina. Initially positioned as an engineering services provider in 1999, it currently has a diverse staff of approximately 20 employees encompassing multiple disciplines. It offers extensive corporate engineering experience including electrical engineering services in the areas of conceptual design, detailed design, product implementation and project management. Their expertise includes over 130 years of lasers, optics, electronics and mechanical engineering. While their product offerings include diode pumped lasers and laser control systems, their extensive background with embedded system design and product development allows for easy integration with other applications.

Galois, Inc.

Agency: Navy
Phase III Success: Over $1.2M in Phase III contracts from the DoD and IC


What exactly is a Wiki, anyway? Most office workers today are aware of Wikipedia, the online collaborative encyclopedia that documents information about virtually every topic and provides it for common access and usage. However, Wikipedia is not the only online wiki, just the most well known. There are many other special purpose wikis in existence.

"Wiki" is a Hawaiian word for "quick or fast" and is often referred to by some with the phrase, "What I Know Is." However, as defined by Wikipedia, a wiki is "a website that allows for easy creation and editing of any number of interlinked web pages." Wikis are used to create collaborative websites, power community websites for personal note taking, in corporate intranets, and in knowledge management systems.

Wikis have been adopted in many organizations as software tools because they encourage collaboration. Common uses include project communication, intranets, and documentation. Today, some companies and government organizations use wikis as their only collaborative software and as a replacement for static intranets. However, when wikis are used across organizations and behind firewalls, issues may develop regarding the security and access rights of individual users. There may be greater use of wikis behind firewalls than on the public Internet.

The government, in particular, wants both the benefit of the security that comes with separate network systems, and the collaboration that wikis provide. Hence the need to develop a separate network security structure for multi-level confidential documents, which is what Galois addressed with its Tearline Wiki project.

Currently the U.S. Government has several million individual security clearances outstanding and is producing tens of millions of new classified documents each year. In many government organizations, there exists a need to restrict access to confidential documents based on the user's access rights. Those who have security clearances for Secret and Top Secret documents need to be careful when sharing information with team members who do not share those clearances and who work on separate networks. In multi-level secure environments information silos develop, inhibiting users from sharing knowledge with those outside the network. Users at higher levels often need information that is only available at lower levels, or on different networks, but do not have a way to easily access it in real-time situations.

Galois addressed this issue under a $1.5M Phase II award from SPAWAR by developing its Tearline Wiki. (A "Tearline" is a physical line on intelligence messages/documents that separates categories of information that have been approved for foreign disclosure and release.)

The Tearline Wiki is a software tool with a high-assurance approach that interfaces with existing web technologies. It integrates information from multiple separate networks into a single web document. Tearline Wiki users are able to read information at any security level, up to their own clearance authorization. Additionally, they are able to write and edit information at their highest authorized level. Virtual "tearlines" separate the information by classification level.

The key benefits of this multi-level security capability is the reduction of redundancy of having low information on the high side and avoidance of the potential divergence of data that can result. The reduction in hardware costs, which previously took three levels of hardware, one for each security clearance level is an additional benefit. Additionally, Tearline Wiki saves replication costs while avoiding problems of latency and consistency. This results in reduction in space, weight and power requirements as well as system administration.

Galois took the Tearline Wiki technology through the 2007-08 Navy Transition Assistance Program and participated in the 2008 Navy Opportunity Forum®. "The TAP really helped us to clarify our thinking and put together valuable materials to market our technology. The emphasis on SBIR data rights throughout the program was also quite useful," said Isaac Potoczny-Jones, principal investigator at Galois.

While Galois was completing the Navy TAP, it was also working with members of the intelligence community on a beta test version of this technology. The intelligence community had multiple wikis deployed in several classification levels and was searching for a separate network solution. Based on the Navy SPAWAR success that brought the Galois Tearline Wiki to a TRL 6, the project received funding for follow-on prototype development with Phase III funding of $1.2M.

"It's clear that there are different criteria for asserting a company's SBIR Data Rights," said Potoczny-Jones. "Since Galois' work with the intelligence community was so closely tied to its SPAWAR Phase II project, it felt that the Phase III funding was an appropriate use of its SBIR Data Rights. With another related project, however, it was determined that it would be more supportive of the customer's needs and Galois' long-term goals to not purse our SBIR Data Rights." Largely this is a judgment call based on the applicability of the technology, the specifics of the agency needs and the company's relationship with the requesting agency.

Galois is a technology transition company founded in 1999 that specializes in information assurance challenges. Located in Portland, Ore., Galois employs 30 computer scientists, mathematicians, engineers and technologists that invent next-generation software tools and technologies for government and commercial clients. Recognized for the use of cutting-edge mathematically-based tools and approaches, Galois works with customers across the government, including the DoD and Intelligence Communities.

Innovative Defense Technologies LLC

Agency: Navy
Phase III Success: $12M in Phase III contracts from the NAVSEA


Back in the 1990s, manual testing of hardware oriented technology was common in order to determine its adherence to system specifications. Increasingly, however, the critical component of Navy systems was not so much the hardware, but the software needed to drive the more complex technology applications. To accommodate the changes in testing requirements, teams were set up to provide on-going regression testing of the large complex software systems.

In 2004, as the Navy worked to streamline costs, the Chief of Naval Operations asked the Commander of Operational Test and Evaluation Force (OT&EF) to investigate what Test and Evaluation (T&E) cost-savings could be produced, theorizing that a 20 percent reduction in costs was achievable. The OT&EF team identified five significant issues driving the test and evaluation costs: redundant testing, increased levels of regression testing, complexity of computer software testing, interoperability testing (and certification), and the need for unique facilities (test-beds) for major Navy projects.

Then in 2005, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) team formulated an SBIR Topic (N05-163) titled, "Tools for Rapid Insertion or Adaptation of Combat System Capabilities." Innovative Defense Technologies proposed Automated Test and Re-Test (ATRT) in response with the objective to develop automated testing processes and tools that would enable swift insertion of new capabilities into complex open-architecture systems while reducing the overall testing costs.

Innovative Defense Technologies (IDT), a small information technology business in Arlington, VA was successful in securing a Phase I contract for this project and began to assess the existing manual testing operations. As a pioneer in the design, development and implementation of automated software testing solutions for complex software systems, IDT discovered through its assessment that the testing methods the Navy had in place consumed nearly two-thirds of the time required for a new capability to be introduced to the Fleet.

"Too much time is spent on software testing," said Bernie Gauf, IDT president. "As software programs increase in complexity, testing times continue to increase as a proportion of the total application development." This is largely due to the manual testing routines and the need for regression testing driven by technology insertion issues. With the Navy's emphasis toward Commercial-off-the-Shelf (COTS) hardware, the testing requirements shifted from methodologies focused on the hardware to those more related to software implementation.

IDT proceeded to develop its Automated Test and Re-Test (ATRT) technology to provide automated software testing capability including a testing framework, automation engine and reporting features. This testing application can be introduced at any phase of a program. It is designed to provide cost savings, which are proportional to the percentage of the program to which the testing is applied.

The company participated in the 2007-08 Navy TAP and presented the ATRT technology at the 2008 Navy Opportunity Forum®. "The TAP helped provide a framework and a timetable for the transition of this technology. The program also gave us the guidance needed to organize the necessary paperwork a transition required," said Gauf.

It was during the late stages of Phase II development that IDT was able to demonstrate, through its time savings and expanded reach - in terms of the the number of completed tests, a savings approaching 90 percent on several Navy applications. In parallel with test time savings, the IDT "reach" resulted in more than 10 times as many tests as the former manual approach.

It was due to the demonstrated savings that IDT was awarded a Phase III IDIQ contract by NAVSEA for $15.4M in 2007 to incorporate their technology into programs such as LCS and AEGIS. In 2009, the company received another $45M IDIQ from the Naval Underwater Warfare Center (NUWC) for delivery of automated testing for submarine combat systems through 2014.

Automated testing provides not only a reduction in test costs, but additionally provides a more reliable system, improved testing quality, expanded depth of coverage, and reduced test effort and schedule. The quality of the test effort was improved through better regression testing, built-in verification testing and the ability to reproduce software problems. The system was more reliable system because of the improved performance testing, improved load/stress testing, and improved system development life cycle through automated testing. "The most successful automated testing environments develop a framework of automated tests with reusable components that are continuously maintained when new capability is added," said Gauf.

Today, using the Navy-funded ATRT technology, IDT provides solutions, which support the entire lifecycle from software component testing, to system integration, to system testing, and the analysis of results."The primary difference with the IDT approach is that most automated testing systems focus on a single application or single computer, while our ATRT solution is designed to support the testing of complex systems comprised of computer networks, display consoles and applications," Gauf concluded.

Out of the Fog Research

Agency: Navy
Phase III Success: $3.7M in government contracts


In 2005, Out of the Fog Research was awarded a contract to design and build an advanced RF distribution system (RFDS) for SPAWAR. The new technology needed to provide a low noise RF path from shipboard antennas to below decks, processing electronics while operating in a high electromagnetic interference (EMI) environment and working with extremely small SIGINT/ELINT/IO/EA and communications signals to shipboard processing electronics that monitor electronic attack, acquisition and direction finding.

SIGINT systems generally cannot mitigate interference blocking the detection of the fourth ranked Signal of Interest (SOI). SOI detection is limited due to insufficient cancellation of electro-magnetic interference (EMI) whereas this technology can provide an increase in Probability-of-Intercept (POI), even for SOI as weak as -110 dBm. Improved performance is accomplished by advanced filtering and low-noise amplification using cryogenic technology.

Out of the Fog Research LLC responded to this need by providing a full-band cryo-enabled CLIC technology that would improve signals intelligence (SIGINT) systems by mitigating interference blocking the detection of Signals-of-Interest (SOI). Upon successful completion of this Phase II SBIR initiative, Out of the Fog Research LLC received follow-on funding of $1.75M through the Navy's Commercialization Pilot Program (CPP).

Clearly, the value to the warfighter from deployment of this technology was an increase in Probability-of-Intercept (POI) for very weak SOI. Cryogenic filters in a CLIC (Comb Limiter Combiner) architecture eliminate EMI from radar and COMINT transmit into the SIGINT systems. Cryogenic-CLIC technology achieves better EMI rejection without increasing noise figure or impacting the demodulation of the received signal.

This was accomplished through technology transition into the Navy Cryptological Carry-On Program (CCOP). CCOP is a carry-on Program of Record that is easily reconfigured and therefore able to respond rapidly to tasking. The Advanced Wide Band RF distribution system design (developed by Out of the Fog Research LLC) permits the rapid insertion of new and emerging technologies and is the building block that will integrate capabilities from existing systems and insert advanced technologies into a single, scalable, interoperable Maritime Cryptologic System for the 21st Century. CCOP will improve front-end sensor capabilities to exploit current and emergent signals of interest, integrate RDF and enable Information Warfare capabilities, and provide embedded scenario based training.

Out of the Fog Research LLC was clearly able to meet the Navy's requirements for low signal detection, however, as Stuart Berkowitz, company founder said, "The key was recognizing the larger Navy need of configuring the technology in the easily expandable 'bookshelf' form needed to integrate its design into the larger SIGINT environment. We essentially ended up replacing their entire subsystem with our design, which incorporated all of their essential elements. It wasn't enough to simply meet the SPAWAR Signal of Interest levels down to 110 dBm, but to provide a subsystem design that "fits into the Navy platform."

Based on this successful technology development and integration within SPAWAR, Out of the Fog Research LLC has additionally received a large Air Force contract of $1.7 million for development of tunable filters. The Navy Cryptological Carry-On Program (CCOP) is currently purchasing two additional systems for final environmental testing at $160,000 each.

As participants in the 2007-08 Navy TAP, Out of the Fog found that the TAP and the Opportunity Forum® were useful in meeting potential collaborators and members of the Navy SBIR team. "We also found that the TAP was quite useful in helping us to focus on our transition planning," explained Berkowitz. In summary, Berkowitz's advice to current SBIR firms is to take a broader look at the Navy's overall requirements beyond your immediate technology. "The key challenge is for the SBIR principal investigator to consider the overall technical requirements regarding how the technology will be deployed," said Berkowitz. "We ended up redesigning the entire SIGINT subsystem in order to integrate our technology into the Navy platform and reduce any rework needed to accommodate our final design."

Beyond these Navy and Air Force applications, this technology can be deployed in civilian environments to provide situational awareness for a variety of homeland security and Coast Guard applications such as border monitoring, port security, high value (power plants, chemical plants, water plants, etc.) facility protection. Other civilian applications include acquisition and location of cell phones and mobile emergency signals for quick emergency response.

Power + Energy, Inc.

Agency: Navy
Phase III Success: $5.7M in government funding and product sales


Navy SBIR companies that go through the TAP know that the contacts they make at the Navy Opportunity Forum are key to moving forward, but the work necessary to promote a company needs to continue. Assuming that the technology is applicable across various military services, SBIR companies should market to the Navy and DoD at large to maximize the potential reach of the technology. By building upon the work they had completed through the TAP program, Power and Energy (P+E), located near Philadelphia, has been very successful in employing an expanded marketing strategy with its Navy funded hydrogen separation technology.

P+E is a supplier of hydrogen purification systems used in the manufacturing of advanced semiconductors, solar cells and LEDs, as well as for various research and laboratory requirements. Established in 1993, the company's mission is to enable the hydrogen economy and promote energy efficiency through the application of micro-channel technologies. The company focuses on developing advanced products for distributed generation of hydrogen, which will enable the widespread usage of energy-efficient fuel cells without the need for investment in costly centralized hydrogen production, distribution, and storage. Using fuel-processing technology based on Power+Energy's reactor technology, hydrogen fuel can be produced and delivered on demand from widely available liquid fuels. P+E provides a full range of micro-channel hydrogen purifiers to ultra-high purity users across the U.S., Asia and Europe.

Its initial SBIR contracts were based on NAVSEA's interest in using Power+Energy membranes for an onboard-ship fuel cell power unit. During this phase, a local consultant with a great deal of experience in Navy procedures and R&D projects was identified and hired to help move the projects along. Later, after reviewing a Navy Broad Area Announcement (BAA), P+E developed a proposal to advance the technology developed under the SBIR phase II. P+E received $1.9M in government funding in January 2008 through the Navy for a project intended to improve the TRL level of its membrane separator. The work was completed at the NAVSEA facility in Philadelphia under an ONR contract.

Their membrane system is designed to extract fuel cell grade hydrogen from a stream of reformed logistic diesel fuel (JP-8). The P+E separator unit was installed into a demonstration system at the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) in Philadelphia to convert diesel fuel into high-purity hydrogen to feed a large hydrogen fuel cell.

On the strength of this demonstration, P+E received additional funding of $2.4M and the company was selected to be the Project Manager for a NAVSEA initiative to build larger and more durable hydrogen separation systems for the Navy. This contract will be coordinated with Precision Combustion, Inc., another SBIR firm, to scale-up its system and to integrate the separation technology into a larger, more durable system.

In addition to the continuing Navy project work, P+E has also delivered hydrogen purifiers and hydrogen separators worth $1.4M to a number of commercial organizations over the past two years. Their customer list includes Battelle, United Technologies, a number of electronics companies, and an industrial gas supplier in the Middle East.

To further advance their interests internationally and throughout the DoD community, P+E retained American Defense International (ADI). Being willing to reach out and work with various companies and consultants has helped advance its technology story across a wider spectrum of interested parties; including the prime contractors for other elements of hydrogen supply. Since hydrogen separators and purifiers are sub-components that need to be integrated into to a larger system, P+E needed to identify and collaborate with these contractors to complete a system that could be successfully deployed.

Power + Energy acknowledges that its Navy SBIR funding, and its subsequent success in responding to Broad Area Announcements, has allowed it to develop a robust hydrogen separator and the accompanying manufacturing process. Albert Stubbmann, vice president sales and marketing, said, "We could not have focused on developing these advanced separators and on refining our manufacturing processes without the Navy SBIR funding and support." Stubbmann went on to say that the TAP "helped to structure our thought process. We believe that as our TRL level grows, the contacts we made at the Forum will be quite helpful."

On the commercial front, P+E has deployed the technology in hydrogen purifiers that supply ultra-high purity hydrogen to the manufacturers of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). Backlighting for cell phones and larger LED-based televisions has increased the demand for high purity hydrogen needed in the manufacturing of these products. P+E is also working with various international manufacturers of solar cellsthat require reliable, high purity hydrogen for the manufacture of thin film photovoltaic devices.

QUASAR Federal Systems, Inc.

Agency: Navy
Phase III Success: $1.2M in Phase III contract from NAVAIR and product sales


Current news regarding the explosion of a British Petroleum leased oil rig and the subsequent leakage of oil into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico highlights the extreme operating conditions and safety challenges inherent in deepwater oil drilling. However, the oil industry has not cut back on its deepwater operations, but is instead increasing this type of work, pushing the drilling depths ever deeper. Operating in the deepwater environment presents technical challenges not present in land-based and/or shallow water drilling. The distance from the boat on the surface to the drill site makes simple operation of the equipment challenging, the tremendous water pressure at depth requires specialized equipment, optimized for this environment, and the hostility of the environment means that divers cannot be sent down to handle problems that may arise.

These challenges drive the cost of deepwater drilling astronomically high. It is estimated that the cost of an exploratory well alone is currently ~$200M. Therefore, oil companies invest considerable resources into surveying of potential drilling sites to try and predict which locations are most likely to yield oil before drilling. Surveying has traditionally been conducted with acoustic technology, a technique which yields information about the composition of the subsurface. However, it has recently been discovered that the addition of electromagnetic (EM) survey data to the acoustic information can result in more precise maps, thus resulting in a higher "strike rate" per well drilled.

Enter QUASAR Federal Systems (QFS), Inc. and a Navy SBIR Topic (N05-003) to develop innovative electrodes for underwater electric field sensing for object location. That project received Phase II funding to develop a complete electric-field sensing system and is currently running under Phase 2.5 funding to build and test multiple prototypes of that system. While developing the technology needed for Navy applications, QFS has also developed electromagnetic sensing technology for oil surveying from technology. QFS secured a $6 million Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract from NAVAIR in 2007. Since that date, NAVAIR has issued approximately $900,000 in Task Orders against the IDIQ for related EM sensing work in an airborne modality, plus an enhancement to the original Phase II SBIR contract for similar EM work.

Historically, the Navy has used acoustic methods for object location applications. However, the noise present in the underwater environment, especially the shallow-water, coastal regime, minimizes the effectiveness of the acoustic technique. According to Gayle Guy, head of QFS Corporate Communications, "There are significant advantages to the electromagnetic approach, particularly in the location of objects via electric field signatures. These signatures are very weak and therefore require the utmost in sensitivity in an electric-field sensor."

Once QFS established the viability of its electrode innovation under SBIR funding, the company begin to pursue commercial applications in resource exploration (subsurface oil) in parallel with its Navy marketing efforts. Given the size and sophistication of the oil industry with its substantial revenue potential, QUASAR Federal Systems took the unique step of forming a division, Quasar Geophysical Technologies (QuasarGeo,, devoted to addressing the specific needs and requirements of the oil and gas industry. This independent division is focused on selling to the oil industry as well as mineral and other resource exploration companies by supplying enhanced performance EM surveying instrumentation. QuasarGeo oversaw adaptation of the Navy technology for the surveying application, and is currently pursuing customers in the resource exploration industry, having successfully concluded a $300,000 technology sale to one commercial entity.

Since its 1998 founding, the San Diego based QUASAR Federal Systems has built a reputation as a world leader in electromagnetic sensing devices and systems. The company specializes in integrating state-of-the-art sensing technology with custom produced electronics to produce systems tailored to customer specifications.

QFS produced the world's first integrated electric and magnetic field sensing device and have built on that innovation to create systems for ground, airborne and underwater EM sensing applications. QuasarGeo was formed to address the specific needs and requirements of the oil/gas industry, as well as mineral and other resource exploration companies, by supplying enhanced performance EM survey instrumentation.


Agency: Navy
Phase III Success: $9M in Phase III funding from the Navy


The growing cost of building new warships in recent years has led the Navy to reduce its order, resulting in the loss of economies of scale, which has driven costs of individual warships (both hulls and weapon systems) even higher. That downward economic spiral has caused concern on the part of the Navy, members of Congress, defense contractors and most certainly shipbuilders. Based on an analysis of the underlying problems with the existing ship building approach, the opportunity has been created for a set of tools and processes to assist Program Managers with the integration and collaboration of technical and programmatic information associated with combat system capability development.

Additionally, as the Department of Defense moves further toward Open Architecture (OA) solutions to address these significant technical challenges, it means more companies will be integrated into the delivery mix, thus making the job of program management and sponsor oversight more challenging. More companies mean more contracts to administer, more schedules to coordinate, greater risk-coordination demands and a greater adherence to technology refresh to meet these growing requirements.

The complexity of integrating these various organizations led to the development of the Open Architecture Technology Insertion Management Environment (OA TIME) technology, which is designed to help navigate the various processes and steps involved in transitioning new and/or enhanced tactical capability to the warfighter. OA TIME provides a framework for the various programmatic and engineering tools that help users at all levels of a government/corporate enterprise in managing, developing, monitoring and planning next generation products for use in fleet operational programs. It provides an embedded toolset that can be applied to any process implemented by the enterprise and it provides a framework and an architecture that allows for the insertion of additional tools that are currently available or under development. The overall OA TIME product is being developed by four small businesses under a Collaborative Development Partnership, which provides a business construct for cooperating companies to work together on a single integrated technical solution. SimVentions is a major contributor to this four company collaboration.

First, some history. SimVentions, Inc. is a small business incorporated in June 2000 in the Commonwealth of Virginia. SimVentions is, first and foremost, a Department of Defense (DoD) focused engineering services and product development company. Their DoD involvement includes systems engineering, modeling and simulation (M&S), and software engineering. While most SBIR firms struggle during their Phase II cycle to identify potential platforms and prime contractors that will lead to a Phase III contract, interestingly, SimVentions had overlapping Phase II/Phase III contracts during its participation in the 2007-08 Navy TAP. In July 2006, SimVentions was awarded both a Phase II contract and a Phase III contract from the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) for development of their OA TIME technology. This was prior to the 2008 Navy Opportunity Forum®, which was held in June.

Asked why SimVentions remained in the TAP Program after it obtained a Phase III contract, Bob Duffy, the corporate business developer replied, "We saw this as an excellent opportunity to build awareness, across the Navy SYSCOMS and prime contractors, of the OA TIME technology. The discipline of the Dawnbreaker TAP Program and the visibility provided by the Navy Opportunity Forum were very valuable contributions as we worked toward completing the development of this technology insertion and planning application."

The OA TIME toolkit provides all levels of personnel working on a particular system, or a system of systems, the ability to plan, manage, and control information and technology to support the rapid deployment of new capability. The web-based architecture allows work to be performed from any remote site while data access is limited by the level of security of the user. Program managers are given the visibility into integrated information that is otherwise difficult to capture and consolidate, including a tool utilizing Base Object Model (BOM) standards, which have been developed in conjunction with the Simulation Interoperability Standards Organization (SISO). Since the contract award in June 2006 through to January 2010, a total of $9M has been placed against this $10.5M IDIQ contract.

The cooperation between NSWCDD and SimVentions engineers, scientists, and developers has led to improved planning, development and testing associated with OA tactical components and management tools. Based on this cooperation, in August 2008 SimVentions entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with NSWCDD for the purpose of collaborating and sharing data rights pertinent to the planning, designing, developing, testing and delivering of new Open Architecture (OA) components and capabilities to the fleet. It is anticipated that this relationship will contribute in a meaningful manner and scale in the overall defense acquisition process while providing the Navy customers (acquisition and fleet) better capability in a more cost effective and time efficient manner. This CRADA includes shared access to the Integrated Warfare Systems Lab (IWSL), the Open Architecture Test Facility (OATF), the Human Performance Lab (HPL), and the Integrated Command Environment (ICE) facilities.

"We have been very fortunate in providing this technology to multiple groups within NSWCDD, as well as the PEO-IWS, for the procurement of combat systems," said Duffy. "While this SBIR was initiated by PEO Ships, we have been able to work with all of these organizations by providing comprehensive program management support."

Systems Technology, Inc.

Agency: Navy
Phase III Success: $1.83M from the USAF and technology sale to Canadian government


Potential transition partners can be found in all branches of the armed services, in the Department of Homeland Security and in several friendly nations such as Great Britain, Australia and Canada. Systems Technology, Inc. (STI) of Hawthorne, CA, found this to be the case as it was completing its Phase II development with its helicopter training model. The company received Phase III orders from the U.S. Air Force, Air National Guard and the Canadian Royal Navy for its Fused Reality Visual System.

Founded in 1957 as a contract research and consulting firm, the foundation of STI's work is based on a fundamental understanding of both aerospace and ground vehicles and the human operators that control them. The company has developed technical expertise in vehicle dynamics, control system design and analysis, handling qualities, computer simulation, human-in-the-loop simulation, human operator modeling, and human factors. STI also develops and markets products in addition to its traditional contract research and consulting practice.

The company's business model has been the key to STI's success in commercializing newly developed technological products to the Department of Defense [DoD] and private sector markets. Even though STI is a small R&D firm with 30 employees, the company has developed a model that vertically integrates their R&D business with their manufacturing and distribution capabilities, thus giving them overall control in developing products to meet the needs of the market.

For the 2007-08 Navy TAP, STI was working on a Navy Phase II, further developing its patented "fused reality" system. This system provides real time interactive fusion of physical and virtual environments employing live video, virtual environmental simulations and real time video editing. The fused reality concept involves the integration of real hardware (i.e. a machine gun) into the environment so that the operator would use his hands to manipulate the machine gun while all of the other elements that were not being "touched" would be made virtual. The advantages of this approach minimize the need for live training in the actual aircraft, such as the H-60S, while retaining the realism of the operational environment. This expands training opportunities while reducing training costs. Especially in the case of training pilots, the fused reality technology is clearly a less risky, less expensive approach, which also expands the training envelope beyond available aircraft and eliminates aircraft variability and inclement weather issues.

While working through the TAP, the company focused on how to position the company and approach potential investors with the fused reality system.

"The TAP forced us to put together much needed documents," said Edward Bachelder, STI principal investigator. "It also made us very organized in the way we presented the technology to our potential customers."

It was during the second year of its NAVAIR Phase II development that this particular technology began its successful transition. It was at that time that the Navy TPOC initiated the involvement of the U.S. Air Force in some of the technical review meetings with STI. The TPOC was focused on the CH-60S Helicopter system development, but through her connections she was aware of the Air Force requirement for a similar training module. This prompted her to invite them to participate in the Navy SBIR reviews.

Not only was the Air Force interested in providing $1.7 million for additional testing, but once the testing proved successful, it decided to make STI's implementation a "showcase" throughout its training organization. "The Air Force has been an excellent reference point for the STI technology and a true 'showcase' for the benefits associated with the Fused Reality approach to training," said Dr. Bachelder.

Due to the current success of the STI technology through the Air Force's training organization, they are planning to launch three more trainers over the next several years. In addition, Bell/Boeing is scheduled to integrate this Fused Reality Visual System with their Cabin Part Task Trainer at Kirkland Air Force Base in September 2010. Through this partnership, STI will function as a subcontractor to Bell/Boeing for this installation.

Through their work with the U.S. Air Force, STI has also piqued the interest of international clientele. While attending the American Helicopter Conference in Canada, the STI PI discussed this technology with the Defense Research and Development Canada (DRDC) representative. As the technology progressed through its TRL levels, the Royal Canadian Navy purchased STI's innovative training approach for its Landing Safety Officer training program. The deal closed in 2009 for $130,000.

STI has continued their product development and continues to find success. The further development work has extended the capability of their ParaSim parachute training simulator, which can now be used in mission planning and rehearsal via a Phase II SBIR for U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM).

"The STI ParaSim parachute training simulator and the STISIM Drive ground vehicle simulator are two of our most important products," said Dr. Bachelder.

Ultra Communications

Agency: Navy
Phase III Success: $1.68M in Phase III funding from NAVAIR and technology sales


Very few SBIR/STTR-funded companies have a sponsor that plans for Phase III funding before writing the Phase I request.However, that is the scenario behind the Phase III success of Ultra Communications (Ultra Comm), a Vista, California based company. At the inception of the 2005 STTR, topic number N05-T005, an enterprising NAVAIR engineer envisioned the development of a "built-in-test" (BIT) capability for evaluating fiber optic links. Built-in-tests were relatively common for fault detection and fault isolation in modern aircraft, but had not been applied to fiber optic links. And while some rudimentary BIT capability existed in some commercial transceivers for years, there had not been any adoption of BIT technology into military platforms.

Previous generations of fiber installations had relatively few dedicated fiber links and no significant maintenance/logistical issues, but more recent designs of modern aircraft (F-18, F-22 and the JSF) incorporated extensive fiber optic cables. Though most avionics components generally had built-in diagnostics, modern aerospace fiber optic implementations lacked such "built-in-test" (BIT) capability. This meant that fiber optic faults were typically detected by skilled technicians on grounded aircraft using specialized diagnostic tools. Replacement of a faulty link required replacement of the fiber link and associated components. It was also of concern that fiber optic links in a marginal state of operation could fail during a flight (due to vibration, g-forces, temperature, etc.). With the increased usage of fiber links, there was an increasing need for the "built-in-test" capability.

Ultra Communications was successful in securing the Phase I and Phase II STTRs for this "built-in-test" capability and proceeded to develop it to a Technology Readiness Level of 6. The technical approach the company employed is known as Optical Time Domain Reflectrometry (OTDR), which basically involved shooting light down the fiber optic cable and measuring the back-reflected light. Since this Phase II development only achieved a TRL 6, Phase III funding would be needed to complete the isolation in the multiple fiber links in the affected aircraft (F-18, JSF). Through the prior planning and internal conditioning within NAVAIR, this STTR received Phase III funding for additional R&D development in April 2009.

Fiber faults, such as open connectors, cable breaks or fiber contamination could be detected via Ultra Comm's OTDR approach. By measuring the optical power at each end of the link, the overall optical loss (or 'link loss') could be determined. While this was a major step forward in identifying the link loss, the Navy needed the ability to isolate the location of faults, to within 10 cm, among the multiple fiber links within the cable plant. The ultimate goal of the STTR was to produce a transceiver with the ability to diagnose the health of both the transceiver itself and the fiber link; thereby achieving significant reduction in maintenance costs, improved aircraft supportability and increased aircraft operational availability.

"We were a relatively new start-up when we won this Phase I STTR," Charlie Kuznia, Ultra Communications president, explained. "The company was formed as a spin-out from Peregrine Semiconductor during the "dot com bubble" in early 2000. During that time, Peregrine was going through a reassessment of its mission and it decided to focus its resources on the cell phone industry. This change in strategy created the opportunity for the formation of Ultra Comm and led to our eventual success in securing several military SBIRs/STTRs."

During Phase II of the technology development, Ultra Comm participated in Navy 2007-08 Transition Assistance Program. The company found that assistance in creating marketing materials filled a significant void in their skill set. "The concept of making ourselves look marketable was the most important part of the TAP for us." said Kuznia. "We are all engineers, and we don't think about this on a day to day basis. Dawnbreaker was extremely helpful in developing our marketing strategy and the materials to move it forward."

As of the printing of this booklet, Ultra Communications is in its second year of the Phase III contract, which extends to January 2012. The company fully expects to show technical success by the end of the contract period and is keeping several prime contractors and commercial companies advised of its progress.

As an outgrowth of this technology, Ultra Comm now markets its technology, commercially known as the X-20 Phantom product. The X-20 Phantom is a quad 2.5 Gbps transceiver for bidirectional optical data communications over multimode ribbon fiber links that incorporates many of the BIT features. The transceiver performs the electrical-to-optical and optical-to-electrical conversions for parallel optic data transmission. Designed for harsh environment applications such as military avionics and satellites, the X20-Phantom operates through an extended temperature range as well as thermal cycling, shock, vibration, humidity, salt fog, and radiation.

Building upon its success, Ultra Comm has now expanded to the point that it supplies highly compact and robust photonic components for harsh environment applications, such as satellites, military airframes, UAVs and missiles. The company has also developed a hybrid IC and optoelectronic integration approach, which features standard planar manufacturing of photonic packages along with single chip integration of multiple functions-transmitters, receivers with built-in-test, high speed digital and RF photonic components.

  • Overview
  • Advanced Energy Systems
  • Advanced Rotorcraft Technology
  • Areté Associates
  • EDAptive Computing, Inc.
  • Geneva Aerospace
  • HYPRES, Inc.
  • Imperium, Inc.
  • Research Associates of Syracuse
  • Sensis Corporation
  • Solid State Scientific Corporation
  • VT Silicon, Inc.

With emerging technologies, the road to commercial success meanders through an uncertain topography. The most dreaded stretch is the "Valley of Death" that lies between the period of heavy investment in technology and market development and the vista of sustained sales. Companies may spend several years in this parched terrain waiting for industry trends to shift, the economy to become more robust, and perceived risk of all types, to be reduced. With steadfast devotion, planning, and, efforts to obtain additional financial resources companies successfully traverse the great divide.

Dawnbreaker's interventions are facilitative. It is the participating companies' actions, aided by increased business acumen, information, and tools that are responsible for their success. Following an Opportunity Forum® companies may decide to take limited action or by contrast, may aggressively seize new opportunities or more ardently pursue previous initiatives utilizing the tools developed in a Dawnbreaker program. The decisions of the company to be more or less aggressive are affected by personalities, by the financial condition of the firm, the availability of contracting vehicles, the availability of staff to follow-up with contacts as well as their knowledge of how to do so appropriately. Other factors that come into play are market conditions, as well as technical issues that may emerge following a presentation at a Forum.

Congratulations are extended to all the program participants for their commercial achievements. This site highlights the profiles of companies that achieved more than $1,000,000 in sales and/or investments during the 18-month period, following one of our Forums.

Advanced Energy Systems

Agency: Navy
Navy | 05/06 Navy TAP Participant
Phase III Success: $2.7 million in Phase III funding from the Office of Naval Research and the Joint Technology Office

Advanced Energy Systems

Founded in 1998 with roots that trace back to Northrop Grumman Corporation, Advanced Energy Systems, Inc. (AES), headquartered in Medford, N.Y., was the recipient of a 2004 SBIR Phase II, sponsored by NAVSEA. The SBIR topic N02-010, entitled High Energy Free Electron Laser (FEL) for Ship Self-Defense, sought to "design, develop and demonstrate components in support of a Free Electron Laser System that can be packaged for naval platforms." According to Dr. Alan Todd, vice president and treasurer of AES, "We're working on one of the most difficult problems within the FEL system, which is the electron injector. For the FEL to operate, very high current and very high-quality electron beams have to be produced. The technology this SBIR addressed was how to get such high quality, high-current beams. The electron injector is a very important piece in what is a very large and complex system."

According to the Office of Naval Research (ONR), Innovative Naval Prototypes (INPs), "push the boundaries of our nation's technical talent to deliver transformational warfighting capabilities to the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps." Currently, there are six INPs, among them the Free Electron Laser (FEL). All the INPs share the potential to, "dramatically change the way naval forces fight." As published by ONR, "the Navy's future Free Electron Laser (FEL) weapon system is being designed to be game changing... The FEL provides naval platforms with a highly effective and affordable point defense capability against many surface and air threats, future anti-ship cruise missiles or a swarm of small boats. Utilization of FEL also allows an unlimited magazine with speed-of-light delivery." At the center of this technological breakthrough is a small business, Advanced Energy Systems, Inc.

The FEL system is clearly aligned with the AES corporate strategy and R&D efforts. As the leading U.S. manufacturer of superconducting accelerator cavities, which are used by the military, the Department of Energy and by university research communities, AES' primary focus is particle acceleration components, generally high-current electron accelerate components.

AES has experienced early success from their SBIR Phase II work, receiving more than $2.7 million in Phase III funding from the Joint Technology Office and ONR. Although this early Phase III funding is encouraging, Todd knows that they are at the early stages of development. "We are working on a research and development item. If you look at the ground rules for the Navy INP, they are considered very high-risk things that need special treatment - an electron injector is a multi-million dollar item. There's a long period of time before these types of components reach the Navy." While the development of the FEL is still in the early stage, AES is well positioned to continue to develop the superconductor RF accelerate cavity for the injector. The company has partnered with major prime contractors in order to continue the maturation of their technology.

e accelerator components, the company is unlike most other small businesses participating in the SBIR program. "We don't make smaller devices that are close to transitioning to weapon programs. Nor do we make a large number of things. We tend to do this big, expensive one-off thing. Because of that, we are a different animal. However, we've still benefited from the SBIR program," Todd said. One way they have benefited is through their participation in the Navy Transition Assistance Program (TAP), which culminates with the Navy Opportunity Forum. According to Dr. Todd, "a key output of the TAP for us was the marketing information. It's very difficult for a small company to get access to marketing information, so the Transition Information Packet we received from Dawnbreaker was extremely helpful." In addition to the valuable market research they received, AES was also pleased with the completion of their capabilities brochure. "It is a wonderful brochure. It is certainly not something we were capable of just going out and putting together. The professional help we received was great."

AES has also experienced other benefits as an outcome of their Navy SBIR/TAP participation. Their participation in the program and the subsequent Phase III work has allowed them to establish a relationship with a number of prime defense contractors and to realize a measurable growth in sales. "Last year sales were $5.2 million, and this year, we're looking at $7 or $8 million, and more than $10 million the following year," said Todd. Over the next three years, they are expecting to double their business, with a good portion of that business being related to the Navy program work they have undertaken.

Advanced Rotorcraft Technology, Inc.

Agency: Navy
Agency: Navy | 05/06 Navy TAP Participant
Phase III Success: $5,250,000 in sales

Advanced Rotorcraft  Technology, Inc.

In 2003, the Navy sponsored a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) topic focused on the development of an aerodynamic model that would "support multi-aircraft/ship dynamic interface analysis and testing." As described in the solicitation, "the dynamic interface problem refers to shipboard landing of aircraft and represents one of the most challenging technical areas of research and development." Specifically, the Navy was asking the SBIR community to provide a modeling solution that would allow the Navy to support future aircraft and ship testing. This was a natural fit for Advanced Rotorcraft Technology, Inc. (ART) a Mountain View, CA based company committed to being at the forefront of rotorcraft technology since its founding in 1982.

ART participated in the 2005-2006 Navy Tran-sition Assistance Program and presented the results of this SBIR project during the 2006 Navy Opportunity Forum. According to Dr. Ronald Du Val, president of ART, the Navy SBIR allowed them to provide, "a detailed V-22 model originally designed to support shipboard operations by looking at interactions of the ship air wake with the V-22 tilt rotor system." Du Val continued by saying that the Company, "compared the results with the data recorded from an actual incident and the results correlated very well." ART has worked extensively to provide "aspects of the model tool that deal with analyzing handling qualities in the shipboard environment and support the design of control systems that better suppress gusts and make the vehicle more controllable in the shipboard environment." Working closely with Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River, Md., they have refined their modeling of the interaction of the ship and its air wake with the rotorcraft. Although the original focus was on shipboard operations, this SBIR topic enhanced ART's ability to model interference effect from other vehicles. The implications of this development lie in its ability to "allow the Navy to model the impact on the aircraft of wakes generated from external sources, and this includes non-shipboard environments, such as turbulence from a building if you're landing in an urban environment," Du Val explained.

ART is no stranger to SBIR success. They won their first SBIR award in 1985; three years after the company's founding. Based on Du Val's experience in commercializing SBIR technology, he offered the following regarding participation in the Navy Transition Assistance Program. "A lot of small businesses are generally unprepared for commercialization. They have the technology, but they don't understand how to commercialize it. The Navy TAP program can definitely help them understand the process of commercialization and the Navy Opportunity Forums are good exposure to the military environment. From that standpoint," he continued, "it helps open some doors." The capabilities the Navy sought were cultivated over more than 25 years of providing advanced aerodynamic modeling to military and non-military markets.

When Du Val founded ART in 1982, he had a vision to "provide consulting support and software products to facilitate the use of simulation technology in rotorcraft research and development." Over the next two decades the company would leverage the SBIR program to provide cutting edge solutions to technical problems facing the war fighter, and to lay the foundation for their FlightLab software product.

In 1986, ART began developing "FlightLab, a rapid prototyping environment for rotorcraft modeling and analysis." According to Du Val, their FlightLab software leveraged their experience and knowledge in, "modeling and analyzing helicopter aerodynamic stability and control, propulsion, and flight control systems." In the mid 1990s they introduced, "comprehensive modeling elements, including nonlinear beam elements and vortex wake aerodynamics" to the FlightLab software. They also took advantage of technological advances in computing power. Prior to enhanced computing capabilities, ART models were, "too sophisticated to run in real time." As computing power increased, ART was able to develop models capable of running in real-time. As a result, ART was able to provide far superior models for training exercises. By the late 1990s, ART had developed a successful model of leveraging the SBIR program to enhance the functionality of their FlightLab software, and had successfully incorporated its software into Army programs. As such, when the Navy needed a model to, "support multi- aircraft/ship dynamic interface analysis and testing," ART was prepared.

As a result of the Navy SBIR program, ART was able to enhance both the flight dynamic models, which they sell to large defense prime contractors, and their FlightLab Product. The company also delivered a flight simulator to NAVAIR at Patuxent River, Md. Collectively, these activities have resulted in more than $5 million in Phase III product sales between 2006 and 2008. The company has grown by fifty percent over the last year, largely because they are getting more heavily involved in the training system areas, and there is an increasing market for this product line. This drove the production of a reconfigurable simulator which was sold to the U.S. Navy and Liverpool University. According to Du Val, "the simulator is well suited for engineering and training applications. It's a glass cockpit that can be reconfigured to resemble any aircraft cockpit simply through software; and aircraft-specific flight dynamics models can be interchangeably loaded to represent any aircraft." Their technology is a single simulator that can be used to model any type of aircraft with rotary wing and/or fixed wing. Du Val shared that, "the Navy TAP specifically helped [ART] by giving us more exposure in the U.S. Navy. It has also made us think more about our business and marketing plans, and how best to commercialize what we are doing. We received good support and input from the TAP and as a part of that, Dawnbreaker has provided market research that has been quite helpful."

Areté Associates

Agency: Navy
05/06 Navy TAP Participant
Phase III Success: $4.5 million in Phase III funding from DARPA and ONR

Areté Associates

Derived from the Greek word arEté, which means the achievement of maximum performance, the pursuit of excellence, Areté Associates is an advanced science and engineering company that has pursued excellence while providing innovative solutions to the most challenging technical problems faced by the U.S. Defense and Intelligence agencies. Founded in 1976, the company works with a wide-range of customers across the Intelligence Community and the Department of Defense, including the Navy, offering technical solutions that include intelligence surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting, mine countermeasures, and anti-submarine warfare.

Recognizing that current tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were utilizing "only very basic technology and were not capable of deriving quantitative, militarily actionable information from the imagery they collect," the Office of Naval Research issued a STTR Phase I topic (N03-T018) entitled Advanced EO Sensor for Multi-Mission USN/USMC UAVs. The topic sought to develop and evaluate a prototype intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) sensor package suitable for use on organic UAVs. Areté Associates was selected for work on this topic and, after participating in the Navy Transition Assistance Program (TAP), presented their solution during the 2006 Navy Opportunity Forum.

Prior to 1994, Areté did not participate in the SBIR/STTR programs; however, that changed with the addition of Dr. Philip Selwyn, former Director of the Office of Naval Technology and Areté's corporate vice president for strategic development. Selwyn joined the company in 1993 and quickly pointed out to his peers that, "the SBIR/STTR program was an opportunity that the company was missing." As a result, the company made a strategic decision to participate in the SBIR/STTR programs, winning their first award in 1994. Since then, the company has won 40 SBIR/STTR Phase II awards, and impressively, they have obtained 15 Phase III contracts during this period.

The first series of SBIR/STTR awards they won laid the foundation for the project with which they entered into the Navy Transition Assistance Program. "This family of SBIRs went to create test-bed digital optical sensors that permitted the collection of spatially registered, space-time images of both the oceans and land. The first-generation system was a panchromatic system, the second-generation system was a four-color system," said Selwyn. They consider STTR topic N03-T018 the third generation of the technology. The work undertaken during this award resulted in the development of an Airborne Remote Optical Spotlight System - Multi-Spectral Polarimeter, abbreviated, AROSS-MSP. "This STTR allowed us to expand to a 9-channel system, with the capacity to simultaneously obtain imagery in 3 color bands and 3 polarization channels," explained, Dr. Brett Hooper, senior scientist at Areté Associates. With Phase III support, AROSS-MSP is now a 12-camera system capable of color and polarization imagery from blue to near-infrared. Although the technology presented during the Navy Opportunity Forum is still under development, certain variations are being used. "Other generations beyond this one have emphasized miniaturization so it can go on a broader range of platforms," Selwyn explained. "For example, this project was pointed towards UAVs, and certain developments along these lines are continuing. The miniaturization I've talked about is to move this technology, which was originally conceived for large UAVs, and apply it to small UAVs."

Areté Associates' ability to continually develop and enhance this family of SBIR/STTR awards is the result of a strategic decision to invest in their development. The primary focus of the awards was the hardware, with a secondary focus on the algorithms and software. The focus of their Phase III efforts has been an emphasis on the algorithm development and the utilization of the unique data products that come out of the sensor systems that were the hardware focus for the SBIRs. "As we went to the first, to the second, to the third of these generations, Areté made significant capital investments into the hardware, because the SBIR/STTR budgets alone were insufficient to do the engineering work, the test work, and to procure the hardware components," said Selwyn. "Essentially, company leadership decided to make significant capital investments so Areté would be in a position to use those end items in future programs. This approach has proven beneficial." Selwyn continued, "Because our technology is still being developed, and some of the algorithms are being applied to sensor systems that we did not develop ourselves. Instead, we have adapted the algorithms to other companies sensors. Some of these sensors have been transitioned into acquisition programs."

Since Areté Associates started developing this family of technologies, the company has more than doubled in size. "While our growth has not been singularly brought about by our participation in the SBIR/STTR program, a substantial portion of it is certainly related to our work in the SBIR/STTR arena and via the Phase III initiatives that have resulted from our participation in the programs. We've experienced significant growth in size, growth in revenues, and our technologies have transitioned in a variety of ways - either directly into operational use or into acquisition programs that are headed to operational use, with both hardware and software variants on this technology," said Selwyn.

Although Areté Associates was a proven and successful firm prior to participating in the Navy Transition Assistance Program (TAP), the program still provided tremendous value, augmenting the knowledge of their principal investigator, Dr. Hooper. According to Selwyn, "Part of the reason we entered this process was that Dr. Hooper had come in from an academic position, and we thought involvement in the TAP would be very important to his development as a senior scientist at Areté...that it would provide him a better understanding of what's involved in our business."

"The TAP opened my eyes to the process of government-sponsored funding, specifically the ONR SBIR/STTR technology transition process, and gave me the opportunity to think about the goals and technologies for Areté Associates on a deeper, more determined level," agreed Hooper.

EDAptive Computing, Inc.

Agency: Navy
05/06 Navy TAP Participant
Phase III Success: $5 million in Phase III funding from NAVAIR, OSD and product sales to prime contractors

EDAptive Computing, Inc.

Edaptive Computing, Inc. (Edaptive) was the 2005 Phase II recipient of a joint DARPA and NAVAIR SBIR award. The SBIR award, entitled User-Defined Critics for Software Adaptation, sought to develop adaptive software that would adapt itself to changing situations based on user-defined criteria, which according to the SBIR solicitation, represents one of the next great challenges in software development. The SBIR solicitation further stated that "there is currently no effective way for users to define unforeseen situation-specific needs, nor is there a way to apply that information to adapt existing or future software. The development of tools that allow users to define critics would go a long way towards the goal of flexible software." Edaptive was chosen to develop a solution to this challenge and was a participant in the 2005-06 Navy Transition Assistance Program (TAP). The company successfully completed the program and then presented their solution during the 2006 Navy Opportunity Forum.

Founded in 1997 and headquartered in Dayton, Ohio, Edaptive provides rapid analysis of system-of-systems and associated processes at design and deployment time. With a core focus on analysis and optimization, Edaptive understood the challenge facing the Navy. According to Praveen Chawla, CEO/CTO of Edaptive, "Systems often fail because of unknown or unanticipated errors. If software/hardware components detected and corrected errors, a substantial cost savings would be realized and it would greatly enhance system reliability." Chawla went on to explain that to move towards developing a robust, adaptable, and error correcting system, "a paradigm must be created in which the system becomes more aware of its operation performance characteristics and conditions that prompt intervention to prevent failure." Understanding this, Edaptive set out to overcome this initial challenge. What resulted was EDAptive® Syscape&tm;.

Syscape is a software framework that allows Edaptive to do three fundamental things. First, it allows them to capture the structure of a system of systems, or a process, which they are trying to analyze or optimize. Secondly, Syscape can capture the behavior of the system, or a process. Chawla elaborated, "The behavior is really captured by a user defining various views for the various elements of the system. And, for each view we can attach a computer sensible model, or whatever file type we want to attach to that view." Lastly, their software gives them the ability to write java plug-ins by using a well-defined application programming interface (API). These fundamental features allow Edaptive to use the API to get access to the structure and behavior that had been defined by the user so that the user can analyze it in a specific way.

According to Chawla, "A unique differentiator for the capability we have created is our ability to rapidly customize its analysis capabilities because of the way it has been architected." The same software can be applied for a variety of applications, so they take a single framework and then create an application from this framework for a specific purpose. As a result of this architecture, Syscape has both military and commercial applications. It has been used to model the, "constellation of UAVs and platforms; used in the Future Tactical Truck System (FTTS) for the Army; as well as used to model supply chain for a Fortune 25 company and a business process for a hospital emergency department."

Though the Syscape framework was already in development, the SBIR award allowed Edaptive to enhance the software to capture models of systems that will allow the user to detect anomalies when they occur within the system. By running the model concurrently with the actual system, the system is able to detect anomalies when they occur and correct them using strategies defined in the model. Edaptive successfully applied this capability to analyze complex systems of systems when they worked on the U.S. Navy E-2C Hawkeye program, modeling a multi-function control display unit. In addition to the E-2C, Syscape has been used by the Office of Secretary of Defense for a capability based assessment for the Future Vertical Lift (FVL). To give an example of how the software is used, Chawla said, "We have developed a Syscape plug-in to import spreadsheets created by the stakeholders performing CBA. Once imported, Syscape permits CBA stakeholders to visualize CBA data more intuitively, enabling them to do gap analysis more efficiently and effectively."

Edaptive has greatly benefited from the development of this SBIR award and through participating in the Navy Transition Assistance Program (TAP). "Strategically, the company made a decision to remain small and focus on product development and innovation, because that is where our strengths are as a company," said Chawla. Though they have not grown in FTE numbers, they have increased profitability due in part to this SBIR. In terms of the effect the Navy TAP had on Edaptive Computing, Inc., Chawla said, "The TAP training in the months leading up to the Navy Opportunity Forum helped us focus our thoughts and ideas into documents that we then used to market and sell our technologies. Those are the type of things that pay off in larger projects," he reiterated. "Furthermore, the Navy Opportunity Forum provided interactions with potential Navy customers. It allowed us to have a one-on-one relationship with them, so we could learn how the Navy could use our products for their specific needs."

Geneva Aerospace

Agency: Navy
05/06 Navy TAP Participant
Phase III Success: More than $4 million in contracts from Navy, Army and Prime Contractors

Geneva Aerospace

GENEVA AEROSPACE, located in Carrollton, Texas, was founded in 1997 by a group of experienced executives, missile guidance experts and aerospace engineers who were driven by what they saw as a lack of precision control and poor integration of intelligence systems in the UAVs of the day. Their first project, funded by the Air Force Research Lab, was a study of simplified control concepts for UAVs by adapting advanced autonomous control techniques classically used in missiles. This project led to the development of a significant portfolio of industry-leading products and services, including advanced flight control systems, communication systems, control stations, software and systems integration services.

In 2005, Geneva received two SBIR Phase II awards from the Navy. The first topic was, "Advanced Command, Control and Communications Solutions for UAVs," which was to answer the Navy's need for "next generation" command, control, and communications technology that provide more autonomy, precision and network centric capability across a broad range of unmanned vehicles. The second topic was, "An Autonomous Fixed-Wing UAV Recovery System," which was to fulfill the Navy's need for an affordable and reliable system that will enable the recovery of fixed-wing UAVs onto small ship decks in high sea states.

Through their research and development, Geneva built upon existing UAV autonomous control systems (the computer that controls the tasks the UAV is to complete), to develop a network centric communication architecture that enabled the user to communicate from any government ground control system, using any government specified radio (data link). This work enabled the company to expand their communication architecture to be fully network centric, a valuable asset in the UAV market.

The company was also able to work with the Navy to establish an effective control station with human system interfaces that allowed an operator to effectively manage and control multiple UAVs from a single control station. With that piece complete, came the development of the autonomous landing system. "When you take all of those pieces and integrate them together you have the recipe for third or fourth generation unmanned systems," said Vince Longhi, director of Project Engineering for Geneva.

While working on both of these Navy topics, Geneva worked with Dawnbreaker through the TAP, presenting both technologies at the 2006 Navy Opportunity Forum. "We found the briefings and the education we received on data rights two of the most valuable take-aways from our participation in the TAP," said Longhi. "Knowing how to properly utilize our data rights was critical and gave us a deeper understanding of the definition of a Phase III contract and how best to handle Phase III opportunities. That was an incredibly valuable asset." Longhi continued, "Another positive component of participating in the Navy SBIR program was the Navy's aggressive support of us as a small business and in getting our technology out there, keeping it growing and keeping it alive. The ID/IQ contracting vehicle we received was an incredibly powerful thing for us as a small business." Through support of the Navy and the hard work of Geneva's staff, the company has experienced Phase III funding of more than $20 million.

Essentially, the Geneva-developed technology has provided a means to quickly fill DoD UAV capability gaps. Their approach to UAVs has focused on the core command control communication system that drives UAV functions that work across multiple platforms. The platform agnostic nature of the Geneva system architecture is a differentiator for them. It is not a stovepipe solution, which works with only one particular type of UAV. Other benefits of Geneva's technology were realized through their "objective based" control approach. The technology enables the operator to fly very complex and sophisticated UAVs through simple command interfaces, requiring only a very small logistics footprint and very small ground support infrastructure. For instance, one of Geneva's spin-off autonomous landing systems enables the autonomous UAV to land without any ground aiding systems. This provided increased reliability, increased operational flexibility, and reduced costs UAVs employing other landing systems. "Not only is there no need for a pilot to manually land the UAV, but with Geneva's technology, we have removed the dependency on tracking systems and beacons on the ground," said Longhi.

The technologies Geneva developed were key to the company's acquisition by L-3 Communications in 2007, at which time they became known as L-3 Geneva Aerospace. "Based on where L-3 wanted to head and what their vision was, and where we wanted to head and what our vision was, it started to align very nicely into a good partnership." The integration of Geneva into L-3 worked out well indeed. Geneva quickly contributed to advance L-3 into the OEM UAS marketplace by developing a family of UAS, leveraging their core technologies as enablers, and capturing the USSOCOM Expeditionary UAS program of record in 2009. Geneva now leads L-3's newly formed Unmanned Systems division, and is developing and delivering a variety of UAS including small tube-launched expendable UAS, mid-endurance UAS, and medium altitude long endurance UAS.


Agency: Navy
05/06 Navy TAP Participant
Phase III Success: $7.9 million in Phase III funding from the Office of Naval Research, SPAWAR and product sales


In 2004, the U.S. Navy sponsored a SPAWAR SBIR Phase II, entitled Digital Dynamic Pre-Distorter for High Power Amplifiers for Wideband Digital Radios. This SBIR topic sought solutions for, "real-time adaptive digital pre-distorter circuits for bandwidths of 100 MHz or greater in the 2-2000 MHz frequency range." The pre-distortion, or linearization, represents a limitation in moving from analog to digital transceivers. The Navy was motivated to advance the state-of-the-art in wireless transmitting and sought to overcome the limitations of current pre-distorter circuits. To move the wireless innovation forward, they chose Elmsford, N.Y. based Hypres, Inc.

ngth is digital superconductor circuit technology. The company has leveraged numerous SBIR and private investments to begin developing what will be an all digital transceiver. This SBIR played a major role in addressing the linearization function of the digital transceiver. For a radio frequency signal to be transmitted across some distance, a power amplifier must be applied. However, when the amplifier is applied, the original signal becomes distorted. Furthermore, when transmitting signals across a wide frequency band, current technology amplifies the signal by chaining a series of low power exciter signals, culminating in a high power amplifier (HPA). However, according to the SBIR topic solicitation, "this approach to reduce signal distortion wastes too much power and is too expensive." Hypres understood the challenge and proposed a new approach that would reduce size, weight, and power. Through their Phase II from SPAWAR, Hypres participated in the 2005-06 Navy Transition Assistance Program (TAP) and presented the technology at the 2006 Navy Opportunity Forum.

Richard Hitt, president and CEO of Hypres, explained that current linearizer technology is a limiting factor in wireless signal transmitting. "To get a signal transmitted, you have to amplify its power to whatever it takes to move it, say 50 miles. The power amplifier needs a signal that has been linearized. A power amplifier distorts the signal it produces. To combat the distortion, HYPRES' technology deliberately distorts the power amplifier's signal in the opposite manner that the power amplifier produces. That way, when the signal finally goes through the power amplifier it comes out on the other side clean. Doing this makes the entire transmission part of the system more efficient."

The linearize function is actually compensating for the irregularities in the power amplifiers. "The challenge is that with current semi-conductor technology, linearizers are only able to do this digitally for relatively low frequencies and relatively narrow bandwidths. So as wireless networks go to higher and higher frequencies and wider and wider bandwidths, in order to carry more data, they essentially out strip what the linearizer function can do," said Hitt. "As such, since the linearizer function is limited, the power amplifier becomes limited, and then the networks become limited. To overcome this limitation, the Navy needs wideband linearization." Hitt continued, "We can do that with our chips. We have the clock speed and processing power to dramatically improve the linearizer function."

Hypres is confident that their technology will increase performance, and they recognize that the faster the move from analog to digital, the more quickly the system becomes cheaper to acquire, cheaper to deploy and easier to maintain. According to Hitt, "We have developed chips that perform familiar functions, analog to digital conversion, digital to analog conversions, but our chips run 100 times faster than the fastest semi-conductor." This is important because the faster the chips run, the higher the frequency it can convert from analog to digital. At Hypres, they use their speed to convert signals directly from analog to digital, which semi-conductors cannot do. Their approach to technological development appears to be paying early dividends.

Although this SBIR topic focused on a single component of digital transmitting, which is still under development, the technology has led to more than $7 million in Phase III funding for Hypres, and has opened the door to a significant commercial business opportunity. As a company, Hypres devises product concepts, Hitt explained, "So that defense and commercial products are similar enough that we can develop common components. From my experience, we've never had anyone provide enough money to solely focus on their product and not worry about anything else. We're always piecing it together, and technological development requires a multi-year strategy and lots of pieces."

This approach to product development has lead to an opportunity to develop a product with a major cellular OEM. They signed an agreement in 2009 to build an all digital transceiver for the OEM system. According to Hitt, "As a direct result of solving the linearizer piece of the puzzle, we now have enough of the whole system proven that we can sign a short term development process to build the product with a real commercial customer, and that is exactly what we are doing."

Though they have long been considered a successful company, Hypres has experienced substantial growth since 2000 when the company leadership made a strategic decision to focus on wireless technologies. Prior to that decision the company had annual sales revenue of approximately $3 million, whereas today, they average closer to $10 million per year. Another strategic decision the company made was to become a participating firm in the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), whenever the opportunity was afforded them. "The TAP is great at pushing us to condense and focus our thinking, and positioning us to communicate the essence of what we're doing," said Hitt. "In terms of bang for our buck, it's probably the best thing that we are involved in all year long." And as for the culminating event of the TAP, the Navy Opportunity Forum, Hitt said, "The right people are there. You've got a good mix of senior management and senior technical people that visit you. People know you're there, they are prepared ahead of time and meetings are already arranged. Not to mention the fact that it's one of the few places we can go where the government people in the program offices are not only allowed to talk to us, they're encouraged to talk to us."

Imperium, Inc.

Agency: Navy
05/06 Navy TAP Participant
Phase III Success: $1.5 million through sales of Acoustocam

Imperium, Inc.

Not all successful Navy-funded SBIR technologies manifest themselves in successful Navy transitions. Sometimes they form the basis of very successful commercial implementations. This was the case for Imperium, Inc.'s ultrasonic technology for locating subsurface defects in aircraft structures. Ultrasonic detection of subsurface defects is a very effective non-destructive testing that uncovers minor flaws or cracks below the surface of various aircraft components. The Imperium, Inc. technology offers a very simple, easy to use video image that highlights areas of concern.

Identification of these defects through this technology eliminates the need for highly-trained specialists to survey the aircraft, thereby resulting in less downtime for the aircraft and less man-hours for testing. The end-result is reduced maintenance, greater equipment availability and significant cost saving over the life of the aircraft. Finding hidden flaws in aircraft structures has traditionally been a highly complicated procedure. It required extensive training for personnel and resulted in a complicated process of data interpretation. The technology developed by Imperium has the ultrasonic capability that obviates the need for this level of sophisticated training, thereby offering a more cost effective solution to this pervasive issue.

Founded in 1996 by Dr. Marvin E. Lasser, chief scientist of the U.S. Army and former director of research for Ford's Philco Division, Imperium, Inc. is focused on developing and manufacturing advanced ultrasound imaging systems. The company's current client list includes, among others, Boeing, Airbus, Bell Helicopter, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and NASA. Imperium holds several patents with many pending and its technologies can be found in industrial, medical, sub-sea and biometric settings.

Since the company's participation in the Navy Transition Assistance Program, which culminated in the 2006 Navy Opportunity Forum, Imperium has had a series of follow-on sales of its "Acoustocam" devices to various military and commercial customers including, NAVAIR, U.S. Air Force and the Boeing Corporation, to name a few. Imperium's sales of the Acoustocam have reached an excess of $1.5 million - with the cost of each unit being approximately $40,000. Additionally, ONR has provided a BAA Contract in excess of $2.5 million for the development of a mine scanning capability and an underwater imaging solution as an extension of its basic ultrasonic technology.

CEO Bob Lasser said, "All of our implementations are built on our underlying ultrasonic technology. While we modify our implementations depending upon the customer's unique requirements, they are modifications of this basic technology. We benefitted from the Navy SBIR program which funded the development of this non-destructive approach for identifying subsurface defects."

While these Navy successes are impressive, Imperium believes that the commercial market is much larger for its Acoustocam devices. "This underlying technology propels the company in its commercial sales efforts," said Lasser. "The military funding we received under this SBIR initiative has provided Imperium with a very effective technology with broad applications in the commercial aircraft field."

In February 2009, Imperium announced a joint project with Boeing Corporation for a wireless remote expert inspection system. Imperium's ultrasonic imaging camera provides for remote, real-time, simple monitoring of potential composite damage. This handheld Acoustocam device provides a quick assessment of suspected subsurface areas for potential points of weakness. Not only is the handheld device simple to use, but it's wireless capability provides access to remote, hard-to-reach areas of the aircraft. It also allows Acoustocam-trained inspectors to remotely inspect and review composite structures located at a separate facility in real-time.

"Imperium has been very aggressive in setting up a commercial infrastructure and sales organization to leverage its SBIR technology success. While the Navy represents an attractive market, the commercial applications far exceed those of the military. We have invested in an extensive marketing program, trade shows and a highly skilled commercial sales force to capitalize on this underlying technology. If it weren't for the initial Navy SBIR funding, we would not have this state-of-the-art technology to offer in the commercial marketplace."

Research Associates of Syracuse

Agency: Navy
05/06 Navy TAP Participant
Phase III Success: $2.2 million in funding from a Congressional plus-up and a contract from Lockheed Martin

Research Associates 
of Syracuse

In the early stages of Phase II development efforts, most SBIR firms are primarily concerned with the development of their technology and do not necessarily focus on the transition challenges that lie ahead. Getting their technology adopted by the Fleet requires two things, successful achievement of their technical objectives and a contract against which organizations can commit their funds.

While this second element may appear as a minor issue, having a contract against which the Navy and other DoD organizations can apply their development funds is one of the most fundamental elements in the firm's transition process. Research Associates of Syracuse (RAS) encountered this challenge in 2008, when they received Congressional Plus-Up funding for their Electronic Systems Precision Feature Extraction Pre-Processor (ES-PFEP) technology.

According to Stan Hall, vice president of Operations at RAS, an innovator in the world of signals intelligence, network-centric operations and network electronic warfare training systems, "While most programs are anxious to accept funding brought by an SBIR firm, two things are needed. One is a specific need for the given technology and the other is a contracting instrument against which the funds can be applied."

With the plus-up funding, RAS was able to secure a Phase III contract, in February 2008, with NAVAIR to apply their technology to the F-18 program. Since this was a continuation of an SBIR program, they were able to justify a sole-source award of $1.1 million. RAS finalized the program specifics with NAVAIR (Tactical Aircraft Programs) in support of the F-18 Program Office (PMA-265) Electronic Warfare Integrated Product Team. As a key element of this program, RAS applied its ES-PFEP IMOP algorithms to provide improved situational awareness for the F-18. Successful completion of this work is expected to result in increased war fighting capability, survivability and situational awareness for the F/A 18 Super Hornet operating in the Network Centric Warfare arena.

Prior to this NAVAIR award, interest in the transition of this technology was shown by other entities looking to address the growing need for additional pulse discriminators necessary to aid in real-time situational awareness. RAS secured another Phase III contract from Lockheed Martin Systems Integration (Owego, N.Y.) for $1.1million. This contract was focused on adding functions to the Common ESM Sensor for Air Defense (CESAD) System. This was part of a larger implementation, but the ES-PFEP technology was a key part of the award. Lockheed Martin was under contract to the Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) to implement this technology.

Through its research, RAS has developed algorithms that will reduce U.S. and Coalition losses by countering adversaries' advanced modulations and ensure detection of potentially lethal threat systems employing sophisticated modulation techniques to defeat U.S. electronic warfare, ELINT, and RWR systems. RAS' algorithms have been proven effective against modern emitters by exercising them against empirical data from emitter field collections. These algorithms are being implemented in reusable VHDL cores to facilitate incorporation into a wide range of airborne, ground, and sea-based platforms.

As a recognized leader in the design and development of ELINT/EW, IMOP and other feature extraction algorithms, RAS has the ability to provide new discriminators in the characterization of waveforms, which would significantly increase the number of applications and the performance of electronic sensor parameter measurement devices. The company's field programmable gate array (FPGA) implementation is considerably faster than a digital signal processor implementation.

Research Associates of Syracuse (RAS) is a privately held corporation with operations in Syracuse and Rome, N.Y. and has broad, in-depth experience in ELINT, electronic warfare, and radar measurements and systems. RAS ELINT experience includes sorting, track correlation, system distortion, equalization and compensation techniques, as well as the electronic warfare databases. Radar experience includes basic radar phenomena, radar signal collection and analysis, feature extraction algorithms, and real-time hardware implementations.

"Participation in the Navy TAP was helpful in providing the discipline and focus on the Phase III transition process for us and the Navy Opportunity Forum was most beneficial in exposing RAS technology to the prime contractors," said Hall.

"Additionally, SBIR firms need to recognize that one of the most important elements of the SBIR program is the data rights that allow prime contractors and DoD organizations to award a sole-source contract as an extension of the SBIR Data Rights. This approach allowed RAS to secure a no-bid award from NAVAIR and to apply its plus-up funds to an important Navy application."

Sensis Corporation

Agency: Navy
05/06 Navy TAP Participant
Phase III Success: More than $30 million in continued research and development efforts

Sensis Corporation

Although attempts have been made to push a multi-functional role on current radar technology, the frequency spectrums were found to be too restrictive for military use. This issue caused the Marine Corps to investigate what would be needed in the next generation of radars so that they would be operational in more than one frequency band. To overcome the current technological limitation, MARCOR sponsored SBIR topic, N03-164, entitled Multi-Band Air Defense/Air Search Radar, with a broad objective of enabling radars to operate in more than one frequency band so they can perform each of multiple functions, such as air surveillance, target discrimination, and weapons cueing, in the optimum band.

Based in East Syracuse, N.Y., Sensis Cor-poration, a global provider of, sensors, information technology, and simulation and modeling to the world's air navigation service providers, civil aviation authorities, airports, airlines and militaries, provided the solution. With 20 years of experience, Sensis clearly understood the challenge the Marines were facing and their team felt the problem aligned well with their core purpose: to provide distinctively elegant, innovative technical solutions in the service of humanity. Sensis Corporation won the Phase I, and subsequent Phase II awards, and began in August 2005 to develop an innovative yet practical solution for realizing active phased array systems capable of operating on two distinct frequency bands with uncompromised performance.

The Sensis technology enables the operation of radar sensors in two distinct frequency bands without compromising the performance in either band and provided the added advantage of using interleave time operation at one band, and within microseconds, operation at the other band. This innovation provides a number of benefits, said Brian Edward, lead engineer for multiband systems. "With multi-band systems, one piece of equipment allows the operator to perform surveillance of targets of varying sizes and in challenging environments. For example, using the technology an operator can detect small, distant objects using the frequency band that is most advantageous for that purpose even in adverse weather, and then, using a different frequency band, targets can be precisely tracked." The technology also provides the ability to identify non-cooperative targets by utilizing the diverse frequencies to help the operator discriminate and determine the nature of that target. Edward continued, "What may be one of the most discerning features of the sensor is that, depending on the environment, if you are denied the use of one of the bands, the sensor is still of value - you can use the band that is available to you in that environment." The work developed under the USMC SBIR award is propelling Sensis into a position to provide an entire radar system.

The company's approach proved to be both innovative and successful. Sensis has received more than $9.5 million in SBIR Phase III funding to develop the subject technology which has enabled Sensis to capture over $21 million in Technology Development funding to date. Over the last four years, the company has grown, exceeding 500 employees while they were doing the initial Phase III work.

Today, the company employs 750 and has experienced meaningful revenue growth during the period following the 2006 Navy Transition Assistance Program (TAP). In addition to the engineering portion of their technology, Sensis was able to develop a more nuanced understanding of the SBIR program by participating in the Navy TAP. During their participation in the TAP, which is executed by Dawnbreaker, Don House had just joined Sensis as a business development professional. According to House, "I needed the type of education Dawnbreaker provided. It was very helpful." The Navy TAP also augmented the company's understanding of the technical data rights, and allowed them to educate their customers on the Phase III regulations. According to Edward, "Another element of the TAP was learning that the company retained the intellectual property rights to items they developed. We were not as aware of data rights provisions prior to the TAP. For example, there was a patent made during the program and we were able to leverage our data rights appropriately."

In May 2009, the company won a competition that resulted in two vendors being selected by the Air Force for a technology development effort to mature critical technology elements intended for a long-range radar program that will replace the Air Force AN/TPS-75. One of the key elements is the transmit /receive module, having its origins under the USMC SBIR project.

"The modularity of our technology is really attractive to our customers," said Edward. "With the Sensis design you can use the dual band radar system initially or, if you don't need the capability right away, you can use the single band sensor. Then, later as threats/requirements change, the user can pull single band modules out, make minimal modifications, and drop in dual band modules, quickly and inexpensively adapting the radar to the new threat or requirement." This is accomplished without having to make major redesigns to the radar. Furthermore, the open technology and architecture features are attractive for life-cycle cost reduction reasons.

Sensis Corporation is continuing to mature their technology through additional research and development. They clearly met the objectives of the original Phase II effort and are well positioned to develop a complete, multi-band radar. According to Edward, an ingredient in their success with this technology was their participation in the Navy TAP. "The TAP refined our understanding of technical data rights and helped us focus on how to approach the challenge of transitioning technology to the field, either commercially or through the Department of Defense." All in all, Sensis Corporation's innovative engineering and focused business approach has resulted in more than $9.5 million in Phase III funding leading to over $21 million in further development funding, with the expectation that 2010 will bring several million more.

Solid State Scientific Corporation

Agency: Navy
05/06 Navy TAP Participant
Phase III Success: $22.5 million in contracts from the Navy, Air Force, Army, JCTD and OSD


Since its original 2003 SBIR award, topic number N03-008, for its "Passive Rocket Motor Identification," Solid State Scientific Corporation has experienced a continuing series of orders on its subsequent ID/IQ contract (NAVAIR N00421-07-D-0006). These orders have come from the Navy, Air Force, Army and the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) including the JCTD (Joint Capability Technology Demonstration) initiative following the company's participation in the 2006 Navy Opportunity Forum.

From its original SBIR, which established the phenomenology of the multi-spectral technology, there have been nine separate orders against this $47 million ID/IQ. One order was from the Army for development of a sensor to integrate with existing "missile warning sensors," and two orders that were the result of major support from the New Hampshire Congressional delegation. Another order was from JCTD for $7.5 million, including $2 million from OSD. These orders were for variations of the original multispectral sensor technology applied in a variety of different applications.

In April 2008, JCTD placed the most significant order ($7.5 million) for the development of the Multi-Function Threat Detector (MFTD) module as a Hostile Fire Indication (HFI) sensor. The delivery order includes integration of the module into the AN/AAR-47 missile warning sensor in direct support of the FY08 Joint Capabilities Technology Demonstration. The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, Md. is the contracting activity.

According to Richard Nelson, vice president of Spectral Sensors at Solid State Scientific, all of this success spiraled from extensive discussions he had with representatives from DoD Program Offices (SPOs) at the Navy Opportunity Forum. "I would say that 80% of our success was due to the conversations I had with the SPO teams at the 2006 Forum," said Nelson. "That event brought the right customers from the various Defense organizations, such as Navy PMA-272 and Army PEO IEW&S, to our booth for extensive discussions. I personally spent over an hour discussing our multi-spectral sensors with Commander Rich Robbins, PMA-272 S&T, regarding the technology's potential to instantly detect and distinguish muzzle flashes among a wide range of battlefield events."

This ITAR-restricted technology addresses the military's need for instantaneous detection and response to hostile fire from a wide variety of threats, including guided and unguided rockets, anti-aircraft artillery, RPGs and small arms fire. By identifying explosive projective threats, military units are able to correctly institute countermeasures. This technology is based on hundreds of simultaneous spectral bands from battlefield events over a relatively wide field of view. The threat identification algorithms detect, analyze and assess the potential threat and provide immediate feedback to the targeted aircraft. In an Air Force sponsored test conducted at Yuma Proving Ground, these sensors were successfully demonstrated against live targets onboard a NAVAIR AeroStar Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).

Solid State Scientific Corporation (SSSC) performs research for, designs, develops, and manufactures spectral-temporal sensors and high-throughput hyperspectral imaging systems for bands from the visible through the long-wave infrared. As a leader in spectral sensing technologies for US Department of Defense customers, they combine knowledge, phenomenology, hardware and software engineering expertise to create innovative and comprehensive spectral sensors from concept to prototype to production. Located in Nashua, New Hampshire, SSSC has designed, built, and tested advanced prototype hyperspectral imaging systems since 1994. In addition, SSSC has pioneered simultaneous spectral-temporal sensing for real-time identification and tracking of energetic battlefield events for such applications as missile threat warning, bomb damage assessment, situational awareness, launch detection, and kill assessment. SSSC is dedicated to improving the detection, tracking, classification, verification, declaration, and identification of military-class targets in order to enable and protect U.S. war fighters.

"The rapid growth of Solid State Scientific over the past several years can be directly attributed to the Navy Transition Assistance Program (TAP) and the associated Navy Opportunity Forum. The TAP is the single most valuable thing a small company in this situation can do. The Navy Opportunity Forum is the best trade-show-like conference we have attended." Nelson reiterated. "Over the past three years, we have grown 25%-30%, largely through the expansion of this multi-spectral sensor program throughout the various military services. And, while we have concentrated primarily on fulfilling these military orders to this point, we fully expect that various commercial customers and governmental agencies could benefit from these threat detection systems as well." Primary candidates for commercialization of this technology would be commercial aircraft, executive jets and Heads of State.

VT Silicon, Inc.

Agency: Navy
05/06 Navy TAP Participant
Phase III Success: $8.8 million in series A and series B funding

VT Silicon, Inc.

VT Silicon has had tremendous success in securing equity financing based on its Navy STTR development activity. In June 2007, it received a $3.3 million Series A round of financing from California-based Menlo Ventures for commercialization of its silicon-germanium based power amplifier technology. The funding was targeted for the company to design and produce prototypes of its new "intelligent power amplifier" chips for the next-generation of WiMax mobile devices. It has now received a second level of Series B funding from Menlo Ventures for $5.5 million dollars for development of a fully integrated RF front end IC solution.

To provide some background on the company, VT Silicon is a fabless semi-conductor company, which designs and manufactures multi-band front end integrated circuit (FEIC) solutions for the mobile wireless broadband market. The company's products leverage novel linearization and efficiency enhancement technologies that enable original equipment manufacturers, original design manufacturers and reference design houses to manufacture broadband, highly-efficient, low-cost 4G devices. The company was awarded an STTR contract ($650,000) in June 2004 for development of a high power amplifier using silicon-germanium (SiGe) semiconductor materials.

This technology provides distortion-prevention techniques - known as linearization enhancement (LET&tm;), which are designed to accurately amplify the complex signals used by WiMax devices, without draining the battery. While important for specific DoD implementation, the commercial opportunity is considerably larger for the WiMax implementation. As part of the fourth generation (4G) cellular technology, WiMax is intended to provide significantly higher bandwidth and broader coverage for the next generation of mobile devices that will support such applications such as streaming video.

Through its participation in the Navy Transition Assistance Program (TAP) and the 2006 Navy Opportunity Forum, VT Silicon developed and then conducted a series of small demonstrations to commercial companies addressing the challenges of RF front-end development. These demos showed the technical readiness of this technology as well as the investments needed to bring this technology to maturity. This "road show," as Vikram Krishnamurthy, chief technology officer for VT Silicon, describes it, stimulated interest in the integrated silicon-germanium approach. The appeal of the VT Silicon technology is the combination of novel linearization technology along with digitally tunable RF architecture, enabling low cost fabrication processes, such as SiGe.

According to Krishnamurthy, "The Navy TAP is a top-notch program, run by a top-notch contractor. Couple the TAP with the Navy Opportunity Forum, and it is easy to see that VT Silicon was provided with the documentation and preparedness to proceed with our commercial road show. While the Navy offered several potential applications, we recognized the commercial opportunities for 4G cellular implementation were considerably larger. Without the Navy STTR funding, we would not have had a technology to address this evolving cellular challenge."

On the strength of these road show demonstrations, VT Silicon attracted the attention of an industry veteran and seasoned high-technology entrepreneur, Mike Hooper, who eventually became the VT Silicon CEO. Hooper saw the potential of this lower cost approach and its ability for controlling distortion. Their proprietary LETTM permits higher power levels since SiGe can support both conventional bipolar transistors as well as CMOS. The LET approach can be implemented on the same chip as the power amplifier, providing cost and design simplicity advantages.

With Hooper's industry experience in power amplifiers, he was able to attract the attention of Menlo Ventures, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm with over $4 billion under management. Menlo Ventures provides long-term capital and management support to early-stage and emerging-growth companies. With its initial Series A financing of $3.3 million, Menlo Ventures provided the funds needed by VT Silicon to address the challenges of supplying highly integrated and lower cost chipsets for the next generation of 4G mobile devices. These chipsets can be produced less expensively when compared to current 4G devices using existing technologies (i.e. GaAs). These lower cost chipsets will allow WiMax and LTE&tm; (Long Term Evolution) to become the leading technology for mobile broadband applications.

The 4G technology requires a power amplifier that is more linear, for higher power levels, while providing better battery life. Each specific application needs to be optimized to balance its power, linearization, efficiency and other design elements. This 4G technology is slowly coming to market with Sprint and Clearwire Communications launching WiMax in selected cities at the end of 2009. Additionally, AT&T and Verizon will be launching LTE in a limited number of cities in early 2010. A national rollout is expected in 2011. Importantly, the VT Silicon SiGe technology supports both WiMax and LTE, thereby broadening the market appeal of its design.

"Through our continued development success, our relationship with Menlo Ventures has now grown with VT Silicon receiving a second level of Series B funding for $5.5 million dollars in November 2008," said Krishnamurthy. "These funds will allow us to work with several vendors on their "reference designs" for developing fully integrated front end modules to meet the demanding requirements of both WiMax and LTE implementations."