A Deep Dive on SBIRs with Ben Van Roo

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Ben Van Roo (@DavidNorthStar), co-founder and CEO of Yurts AI, joins Lucas Bagno on this episode of Solarpunk. Takeaways:
- The Small Business Innovation Research program was originally developed as a grant program to allow small companies do innovative research. The gene for cystic fibrosis was discovered from the program.
- If you’re a small company and you get an SBIR contract, you should not count on getting a government contract.
- It has been very difficult for software companies to get a program of record contract because that has not been the typical model of defense in the past.
- The nature of war is shifting away from large platforms and big garrison-style bases.
- There have been 20-30 “SBIR mills” that have taken $3.5B combined in phase 1 and 2 contracts. Ben would put hard caps on the amounts that companies can get from the program and the types of companies that can apply to the SBIR program.
- Commercial technology has outpaced the defense industry by far.
- It’s very difficult for small companies to even fill out the forms required for the SBIR program. Making it more friendly for newcomers would make a big difference to the program.
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