The Doolittle Institute facilitated two SBIR Kickoff Sprints by modifying the framework of Google Venture’s Design Sprint methodology, producing two viable SBIR Phase II concepts in just three days.
Two SBIR Phase I companies, Lynntech and Creare, participated in the simultaneous SBIR Sprints. Each company received the same information and requirements, then separated into teams. They each received access to a SBIR contact, the same number of subject matter experts, a Doolittle Institute facilitator, and an AFRL technical point of contact. Members of AFRL Munitions Directorate (AFRL/RW) and the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) served as the technical points of contact.
The companies responded to SBIR Topic AF191-076: advanced power supplies, but instead of using the Sprint to produce a prototype, the Doolittle Institute’s Innovation and Collaboration Principal Laura Rakas modified the traditional Design Sprint methodology and facilitated the teams to concept generation, or ideas to prototype.
“SBIR topics can be vague, and sometimes the awarded companies don’t have a complete understanding of the SBIR requirements. The SBIR Kickoff Sprint helped the companies define the problem and guided them to a better understanding of what a viable Phase II concept looks like,” said Rakas. Through her facilitation techniques, the companies developed a work scope, arranged priorities, developed an implementation plan, and set expectations for Phase II.
The SBIR Kickoff Sprint condensed months of work into just three days and resulted in two technical concepts ready for prototyping. The companies–and the Air Force–concluded the Sprints with a better solution to a complex Air Force problem. AFRL/RW technical point of contact Geremy Kleiser said he’d encourage SBIR Kickoff Sprints for future SBIR companies, and said that the up-front time spent on a SBIR Kickoff Sprint resulted in a higher return on investment, a more sustainable relationship with the companies, and more active engagement from the Air Force.
“There’s a difference in what makes sense on paper than when you actually go and do it. The SBIR Kickoff Sprint provided the companies an additional layer of technical base knowledge and broader peer review,” Kleiser said.
The traditional Design Sprint process, developed by Google Ventures, uses a highly structured, five-day process for solving tough problems, and offers a framework for focusing efforts, envisioning real-world solutions, testing, and prototyping.
The Doolittle Institute, an AFRL Innovation Institute, supports the Air Force Research Laboratory Munitions Directorate by working to license and commercialize AFRL/RW technologies in the private sector, enable rapid technology delivery to the warfighter, identify and foster new R&D partnerships and develop AFRL’s current and future workforce. The Doolittle Institute is a member of the Defensewerx Family.
If you are a member of an AFRL Innovation Institute, the Air Force SBIR/STTR community, a DEFENSEWERX Innovation Hub or are an AFRL Technical Point of Contact interested in conducting your own SBIR Sprint, please contact the Doolittle Institute at (850) 842-4393 or email us at email@example.com.