SBIR Advisors lands $50M in military contracts for San Antonio businesses

By Iris Gonzalez
Sam Riehn is founder and CEO of SBIR Advisors, courtesy photo

The military contracting company forecasts roughly $200M in DoD contracts in 2023.

SBIR Advisors helped five advanced technology companies in San Antonio — Braingu, Knight Aerospace, Elevate Systems, Renu Robotics, and Forward Edge — win almost $50 million in non-dilutive Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding in 2022.

SBIR Advisors also worked to win an additional $4.6 million for a nonprofit group of research institutions that includes The University of Texas at San Antonio’s (UTSA) National Security Collaboration Center. The San Antonio-based military contract consulting company has been instrumental in connecting innovators to the Department of Defense since its launch in late 2020.

“Our clients are on track to secure $200 million in Department of Defense contracts in 2023,” said SBIR Advisors founder and CEO Sam Riehn.

Congress established the SBIR program in the 1980s to help small businesses provide a solution to the warfighter faster and more efficiently. The highly competitive U.S. government SBIR program awards non-dilutive funding for companies to develop advanced tech innovation for the market. The research and development (R&D) must have the potential for commercialization and meet a stated government agency need.

The SBIR program helps startups and other innovative companies secure non-dilutive funding from government customers looking for advanced capabilities. However, applying for SBIR funding can be challenging, especially for first-time applicants unfamiliar with the stringent requirements.

Read more7 Tips on How to Win Non-Diluting Federal SBIR, STTR Grants

“Our team members have backgrounds in different government sectors,” Riehn said. “Providing us with information about your company and what type of contracts you want to pursue enables us to pair you up with a consultant that is a perfect fit for your company. We create a strategy roadmap based on your goals, including customer targets and contract opportunities.”

SBIR Advisors then connect the business with qualified, relevant Department of Defense stakeholders while guiding the client through negotiations, contract terms, and post-award administration.

Renu Robotics, based in San Antonio, has developed all-electric autonomous robotic tractors to manage vegetation at large-scale solar farms and other energy facilities. Renu is working with commercial airports and the military and expects both market verticals to grow.

“We wanted to leverage the combined technologies of autonomous vehicles, the internet of things, and robotics to help support renewable energy and improve the environment,” Renu Robotics CEO Tim Matus said.” Our research and development align with our work with current customers and the military.”

SBIR Advisors also helped Knight Aerospace connect its advanced technology platforms for transporting people and mission-critical cargo to more government customers.

“Knight Aerospace has recently developed disruptive solutions in the aeromedical evacuation and critical care air transport fields,” said Luke Perkins, Director of Engineering and Innovation at Knight Aerospace. “With the help of SBIR Advisors, we were able to get our new technology to the right people in the DoD.”

Riehn said his contracting company helped clients land roughly $100 million in military contracts in 2021 and over $160 million in 2022. SBIR Advisors has grown to 35 employees working with businesses across the U.S. Riehn said they have doubled its client base in San Antonio alone.

“We guide our clients through the proposal, negotiations, contract terms, and post-award administration to get that technology where it needs to be at the right time,” Riehn said. “We think 2023 will be a big growth year for us.”

His advice for businesses interested in leveraging federal equity-free SBIR funding is to “start looking for customers first to find interested buyers, then use SBIR as a funding mechanism to allow you to work with your customers.”

With over eight years of experience as an Air Force contracting officer, Riehn understands the Federal Acquisition System well. The Air Force and Space Force were the first agencies to list open topics in the SBIR funding program (an open call for all solutions to a stated problem). Riehn said every government agency needs to list an open topic in their respective SBIR program starting in 2023.

“We are fulfilling their mission of getting great technology to the warfighter by connecting companies, universities, and nonprofits to the Department of Defense,” Riehn said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.