Published on
Jun 29, 2022

Academics, small business innovators, and government personnel can learn about the Department of the Air Force SBIR/STTR program and certify in getting to Phases I and II for free via online courses 

Dayton, Ohio – The Academic Partnership Engagement Experiment (APEX) program, which is a Department of the Air Force partnership intermediary, announced today the launch of its Level 2 Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR & STTR) online courses that are designed to educate industry, academia, and government about the U.S. Air Force SBIR/STTR application process. Individuals with all levels of familiarity with the SBIR/STTR process, from beginners to award winners, are encouraged to explore these courses. Enrollment in the courses is offered free of charge. 

These self-guided modules are housed on a Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) learning system that was developed in 2021. The MOOC hosts 24 topical videos, each running 3-12 minutes, and covering “Getting to Phase I in the Department of the Air Force SBIR/STTR program.” By completing the MOOC and a capstone knowledge check test, users will receive a certification of training completion.  

Level 2 includes over 19 new courses and covers Phases 1 through 2.  Certification of completion will follow the completion of Level 2 courses. 

Below is a sample of the courses available: 

  • An SBIR/STTR Overview 
  • Department of the Air Force SBIR/STTR Fundamentals 
  • Pitching 101 & Pitching Tips 
  • Slide Prep Tips 
  • Partnering Opportunities with Primes 
  • Creating your story 
  • Contracts vs Grants 
  • U.S. Air Force Roles and Responsibilities 
  • Connecting in the U.S. Air Force 
  • Pitch Days 
  • The Memorandum of Understanding 
  • Transitioning from Phase I to Phase II 
  • Finance, Budget, and Accounting Considerations 

In August 2021, APEX received $9.6 million to support technology transition in West Virginia and Appalachia on behalf of the Department of the Air Force and collaborates with Vertx Partners, a West Virginia-based organization, to execute the mission. Vertx Partners was founded with the mission to help solve the Nation’s most pressing national security challenges through partnerships and connections with America’s innovators. Vertx develops connections and builds networks to create innovation within unforeseen relationships while disrupting the status quo and pioneering solutions for breakthrough technology. The organization cultivates relationships and partnerships built on trust and expertise, and it connects small businesses with complex problems to create successful solutions within their network. Vertx Partners uses the APEX MOOC to train West Virginia-based clients, entrepreneurs, technologists, and small business owners on the SBIR/STTR program.  

“The MOOC offers academia, industry, and government the opportunity to learn the process for the entire Department of the Air Force SBIR/STTR journey. The content is client-focused and tailored for individuals, teams, and organizations as well as its virtual setting allows users to access it whenever convenient. Users can also get certified in ‘Getting to Phase I’,” said Vertx Partners, LLC Vice President for External Relations Scott Rotruck. 

“The MOOC enables our clients to put their best foot forward when working to solve national security problems through the SBIR/STTR program,” said Sean Frisbee, Vertx Partners LLC, president, and chief executive officer. 

“We are grateful for the opportunity provided by our Air Force client and the funding they’ve endowed to the APEX program to reach innovators across the United States,” said Erin Holden, APEX program manager. “Our American innovators play a crucial role in the success of our Nation’s national security, and we would be remiss by not providing them with accessible and helpful resources. The MOOC is an exciting project that has been designed and developed by key decision-makers and thought leaders within the Department of the Air Force, and we look forward to seeing how our hard work translates into more successful SBIR/STTR applicants.” 

Level 3 courses are in development and will cover Phase III of the program and beyond. Level 3 will add 15 courses to the MOOC. The target date for completion is Summer 2022. Learn more about the MOOC, here


About APEX 

APEX cultivates innovation by expanding the American research enterprise for the Department of the Air Force by engaging, connecting, and enabling innovators across academia, industry, and the Department of Defense. APEX utilizes data analytics to identify transformational operational defense solutions in academia, industry, and government; provides SBIR/STTR proposal process navigation services for academic researchers and small businesses, and enhances cross-sector engagement by providing direct connections to the technology needs of multiple Department of Defense programs.