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NASA Selects 16 Small Business Technology Transfer Projects

April 15, 2009

NASA has selected 16 proposals for negotiation of Phase 2 contract awards in the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. The selected projects have a total value of approximately $9.6 million. The contracts will be awarded to 16 hi-tech firms partnered with 15 universities in 18 states.

The Small Business Administration provides guidance for the general conduct of the STTR Program. NASA is one of the federal agencies required to reserve a portion of its research and development funds to award to small business. NASA works closely with Small Business Administration to ensure compliance with federal regulations.

NASA’s Innovative Partnerships Program office at the agency’s headquarters in Washington provides executive oversight of the STTR program as part of its focus on emerging technologies and efforts to advance technological innovation for NASA purposes. The office partners with U.S. industry to infuse innovative technologies into NASA missions and transition them into commercially available products and services for NASA and other markets.

As an investment opportunity, STTR innovations address specific technology gaps in mission programs, provide a foundation for future technology needs, and are complementary to other NASA research investments.

Examples of some STTR technologies being pursued in current selected proposals are provided below:

* A novel on-chip sensor system that monitors body fluids to follow the potential onset and progress of diseases is being developed. The integrated platform will provide the technological backbone to develop microfluidic processing systems and nano-biosensors for a variety of applications in healthcare and the life sciences.

* A smart reconfigurable antenna for space suits is under development for use during NASA’s spacewalking operations on the moon. These proposed smart antennas offer a high performance-to-cost ratio and may reduce the cost of mobile communication antennas.

* A new coordinated control architecture for a new generation of robotic vehicles is under development. It will improve motion planning for cooperative mechanisms, task sequencing and monitoring, and enable the robotic vehicles to work in closely coordinated teams. This control architecture also can be applied to commercial sector robots, making factories and warehouses more efficient.

Research proposed to develop a technique and sensor to measure simultaneously the concentrations of several contaminants in hydrogen gas storage tanks and supply lines. The purity of hydrogen fuel is important in engine testing at NASA and the proposed sensor may also be used for quality control in pharmaceutical, chemical and food processing industries.

Participating firms and research institutions submitted 25 Phase 2 proposals. The criteria used to select the winning proposals included technical merit and innovation, Phase 1 results, value to NASA, commercial potential, and company capabilities.

The program is a highly competitive, three-phase award system. It provides qualified small businesses, including women-owned and disadvantaged firms, with opportunities to propose innovative ideas that meet specific research and development needs of the federal government. In addition, the STTR program requires a collaborative research effort between small business and research institutions.

Phase 1 is a feasibility study to evaluate the scientific and technical merit of an idea. Awards are for up to 12 months in amounts up to $100,000. Phase 2 expands on the results of the development in Phase 1. Awards are for up to two years in amounts up to $600,000. Phase 3 is for the commercialization of the results of Phase 2 and requires the use of private sector or non-STTR federal funding. These NASA awards are for the second-phase in this competitive process.

NASA’s STTR program operations are managed by NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. Individual projects are managed by NASA’s field installations. For a list of selected companies, visit: http://sbir.nasa.gov

For information about the Innovative Partnerships Program, visit: http://www.ipp.nasa.gov




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