Open Topic

The Open Topic is the front door to working with the Department of the Air Force. The Open Topic operates in a Phase I, followed by a Phase II and Direct to Phase II approach. Commercial industry submits their technology solutions in the proposal process and defines how they think their solution will benefit the warfighter. The Air Force then evaluates the proposal to determine if the project is something they would like to conduct a feasibility study on.

The Open Topic process utilizes DAF Focus Areas which provide a loosely-defined need by Air Force end users.  Small businesses are able to search through these Focus Areas to find the best connections for their proposed technology solutions.

Phase 1

Phase I

The feasibility study is conducted during Phase I with a 3-month period of performance where the small business works to identify their Air Force end user (warfighter) and customer (program office) with the goal of getting that Air Force end user and customer to sign a Customer Memorandum verbalizing their intent to work with the small business on transitioning their technology to warfighters. Once the Customer Memorandum, a requirement for submitting for a Phase II proposal, is in hand, small businesses will compete to proceed to prototyping their solution.

  • Period of Performance: 3 months
  • A maximum award of $75K
  • On contract to conduct Technical Feasibility 
  • Two deliverables (preliminary & final reports)
  • Prepare for Phase II application
  • Work to get a DAF Customer & End User to sign a Customer Memorandum for Phase II proposal
Phase 2

Phase II

The Phase II, or prototyping phase, sees the small business work directly with an Air Force Technical Point of Contact (TPOC) to conduct further R&D to build and adapt their dual-use proposed solution to fit Air Force needs. If a small business already has a solution that is ready for prototype and adaptation to Air Force needs, has identified an Air Force end user and customer, and has a signed Customer Memorandum in hand, they are able to skip the initial Phase I process and apply to a Direct to Phase II (D2P2) solicitation.

  • Traditional

    • Period of Performance: Up to 21-months
    • A maximum award of $1.25M
    • Milestone Deliverables IAW Proposal Milestone Schedule
    • Work with the AF Customer & End User who signed the Customer Memorandum
  • Direct to Phase II (D2P2)

    • Period of Performance: Up to 21-months
    • A maximum award of $1.25M
    • Milestone Deliverables IAW Proposal Milestone Schedule
    • Work with the DAF Customer & End User who signed the Customer Memorandum AND must demonstrate technical merit

Submit a Proposal
How to get involved

How to Get Involved


  • Open Topic utilizes an out-of-cycle solicitation schedule offering two Phase I (with follow-on Phase II opportunities) and two Direct to Phase II (D2P2) opportunities a year.
  • A SBIR/STTR proposal for any DoD component must be submitted through the online DoD Submission website.
  • Check our website, social media channels
  • Sign up for our newsletter to be notified when solicitation windows will open.


  • Government users can publish a Focus Area specific to their mission’s needs. 
    • Define user needs & use cases
    • Provide a POC to that government need
    • Technology agnostic...but what would a solution offer the warfighter?
    • Send an email to to get started. 
  • Why are Focus Areas (FA) important?
    • FA Owners are encouraged to reach out to small businesses they have worked with to connect to their focus areas
    • FA Owners are invited to AFWERX colliders, Pitch Days, and other collaboration events
    • Focus Areas are searchable so business owners can understand who their potential government customer might be in the DAF

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