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Saturday, April 17, 2021

NASA Provides $45M Boost to US Small Businesses

Small businesses are vital to NASA’s mission, helping expand humanity’s presence in space and improve life on Earth, and the space agency has selected 365 U.S. small business proposals for initial funding from the agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program (https://sbir.nasa.gov/content/nasa-sbirsttr-basics), a total investment of more than $45 million, NASA said.

Fort Worth-based Pointwise Inc. was selected in each category.

The company says on its website that mesh generation software from Pointwise and its co-founders has been used for computational fluid dynamics – think  virtual wind tunnel – on applications as diverse as aerodynamic performance of the F-35 Lightning II and reducing fish mortality rates in a hydroelectric project. Engineers in the aerospace industry use the process to predict aerodynamic lift and drag and engine performance.

“At NASA, we recognize that small businesses are facing the space agency said in a news release unprecedented challenges due to the pandemic,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. “This year, to get funds into the hands of small businesses sooner, we accelerated the release of the 2021 SBIR/STTR Phase I solicitation by two months. We hope the expedited funding helps provide a near-term boost for future success.”

NASA selected 289 small businesses and 47 research institutions to receive Phase I funding this year. More than 30% of the awards will go to first-time NASA SBIR/STTR recipients.

“We are excited to have a large cohort of new small businesses join the NASA family via the SBIR/STTR program,” Reuter said.

Through the program, NASA works with U.S. small businesses and research institutions to advance cutting-edge technologies. The agency provides up to $125,000 for companies to establish the merit and feasibility of their innovations.

Phase I SBIR contracts are awarded to small businesses and last for six months, while Phase I STTR contracts are awarded to small businesses in partnership with a research institution and last for 13 months. Based on their progress during Phase I, companies may submit proposals to subsequent SBIR/STTR (https://sbir.nasa.gov/content/post-phase-ii-initiatives) and receive additional funding.

NASA selected proposals to receive funding based on their technical merit and commercial potential. The selections span the breadth of NASA missions to empower the agency’s work in human exploration, space technology, science, and aeronautics.

The small businesses and research institutions selected are as varied as the technologies they will develop. Hailing from 38 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, they include women-owned, minority-owned, and veteran-owned small businesses, as well as Minority Serving Institutions and other types of research organizations. NASA said.

“NASA SBIR/STTR interfaces with entrepreneurs pushing the boundaries of innovation,” said Program Executive Jason L. Kessler. “We’re proud to partner with a diverse group of innovators and expand the reach of NASA across the country.”

NASA’s SBIR/STTR program is part of STMD and managed by NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley.

North Texas companies selected in Small Business Innovation Research 2021 Phase I include:

Dallas Optical Systems Inc., Rockwall

Photon Sciences Inc., Plano

Pointwise Inc., Fort Worth (Pointwise and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were also selected for a Small Business Technology Transfer award.)

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Paul Harral
Paul is a lifelong journalist with experience in wire service, newspaper, magazine, local and network television and digital media. He was vice president and editor of the editorial page of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and editor of Fort Worth, Texas magazine before joining the Business Press. What he likes best is writing about people in detail and introducing them to others in the community. Specific areas of passion are homelessness, human trafficking, health care and aerospace.

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