SBIR Success Strategies

October 29th’s panel on Back 2 Biz will focus on success factors for the SBIR program from the corporate, SBIR program manager, and venture perspectives. Here’s an opportunity to hear from and interact with a diverse panel of experts who know SBIR success.

We’ll sit down with entrepreneurs, a federal VC and SBIR program managers for a session moderated by Jen Sovada, Chief Futures Officer and SVP/GM, MissionTech Solutions, where we will explore the current state of SBIR funding, how companies can successfully navigate the SBIR process, what federal VCs and program managers look for in companies that apply, and how they measure SBIR program and innovation success.

Congress created the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program in 1982 with the mission to support scientific excellence and technological innovation using federal R&D funds and the goal that those projects will become commercial successes. For small companies that qualify, the three-phase system can be lucrative. For example, first stage or Phase I awards can deliver up to $150K for 6 months of project feasibility research.

A video recording of the October 29 conversation will be made available.

  • Anusha Iyer | Co-Founder and CTO, Corsha
  • Dr. Manny Oliver | Director, SBIR/STTR Programs Office, Department of Energy
  • Riya Patel | Program Manager Government, Dcode
  • Jason Rathje | Director, AFVentures AFWERX, U.S. Air Force
  • Jen Sovada | Chief Futures Officer & SVP/GM, MissionTech Solutions | Board Member, Defense Entrepreneurs Forum
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Anusha Iyer
Anusha Iyer

Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder of Corsha

Anusha is a technology leader with over 15 years of experience in security-minded software, analytics, and managed services. Prior to Corsha, Anusha was the Director of Software Programs at Galois, Inc., managing DARPA contracts in the areas of privacy, cyber-mission planning, and software diversity. She started her career in the Washington, D.C area at the Naval Research Lab, where she contributed to programs in the realm of tactical edge networking, program analysis and reverse engineering.

Anusha earned her Master’s degree in Computer Science from SUNY Buffalo and an undergraduate degree from Carnegie Mellon University. She did her graduate work in formal models for insider threat assessment. Anusha is passionate about making security accessible, easy to adopt, even self-assuring.

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Manny Oliver
Manny Oliver

Director of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs
US Department of Energy

Manny Oliver is the Director of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs for the US Department of Energy, Manny has reduced the time from application to start of R&D from 8 months to 4.5 months. He is focused on commercialization outcomes through revised application requirements, a revamped commercialization assistance program, and web-based tracking of outcomes. Manny is implementing a collaborative effort with technology transfer offices at National Labs and universities to leverage the SBIR/STTR programs to accelerate technology transfer.

Manny is an MIT graduate with a B.S. and a Ph.D. in Materials Science. Manny was also an Assistant Professor at MIT.

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Riya Patel
Riya Patel

SBIR Government Program Manager

Riya Patel is Dcode's Government Program Manager. Riya
- Develops and manages relationships with key officials at various DoD and civilian agencies
- Develops new and exciting ways to work with government, startup technology companies, and system integrator partners to advance government missions.
- Leads curriculum sessions for both Dcode's tech and government community on innovative acquisitions, engaging with tech companies, and conducting deliberate market research.

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Jason Rathje
Jason Rathje

Director of AFVentures, AFWERX
United States Air Force

Jason Rathje is the Director of AFVentures, AFWERX. AFWERX connects the US Air Force,, to innovators.

Jason is part of a team that implements novel initiatives to mature and transition "dual-use" technology ventures. Their approach is to (1) build relationships between commercial solution-providers and Air Force problem-owners and (2) scale successful problem-solution matches. They are successful if their initiatives accelerate product-market fit between the companies who are passionate about national security and Air Force users who need their revolutionary technologies.

Jason has researched the intersection of entrepreneurship, innovation, and national security in Stanford's Management Science & Engineering Department, specializing in technology entrepreneurship strategies. Specifically, Jason studied the effect of government partnerships, both as an investor and customer, on basic research through commercialization. This research heavily influenced my involvement in AF Ventures, as well sparked new research projects on how to expand the dual-use economy more intelligently.

Jason is an MIT graduate with a B.S. and an M.S. in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering.

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Jen Sovada
Jen Sovada

Futures Officer and Senior Vice President / General Manager for the Defense market for the Intelligence Community (IC)
MissionTech Solutions

Forbes Top 50 AI in Government Influencer Colonel (Ret.) Jen Sovada is MissionTech Solutions Chief Futures Officer where she is responsible for bringing MissionTech's model for integrating new technologies and best practices into government. While at MissionTech, Jen developed MissionTech’s Promethean Process™, a proprietary five-step innovation framework that drives the success of our projects and clients. Prior to joining MissionTech, Jen served as an Intelligence Officer for over 25 years in the Air Force and held high-level positions across the Intelligence Community to include serving as the Chief of Talent Management for the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) and Cyber Effects Operations and as the Wing Commander of the Air Force Technical Applications Center.

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Bring your best ideas, innovations and SBIR funding challenges and enjoy the conversation!


Back 2 Biz is a series of engaging and interactive conversations examining how tech, entrepreneurship and innovation can improve our lives and bring businesses back — stronger & safely. Sessions are live and free to register. On-demand access will be available to all registrants. Overflow live stream on the MITEFDC YouTube Channel.

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NextGen Computing @ Quantum Speed

Hope your New Decade is off to a terrific start! Don’t miss out on this phenomenal opportunity to kick-start your year!

**Light fare and drinks included**

MITEF DC is hosting *the* Quantum Computing discussion event that impacts our Next Gen workforce. We have a stellar roundtable of CEO and founder speakers from Rigetti Computing, IonQ, ColdQuanta and the Quantum Economic Development Consortium. We’ll discuss founder success stories, the real opportunity for entrepreneurs in quantum and focus on how we ready the next generation of programmers, business leaders and emerging growth companies for commercial quantum.

A special thanks to our event sponsor.

Foley & Lardner LLP