AUSTIN, Texas -- The U.S. Army Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is designed to provide small high-technology businesses the opportunity to propose innovative research and development (R&D) solutions to the government, in response to critical Army needs.This year, the Army will issue four SBIRs describing its R&D needs, and invite small businesses to submit proposals. To be considered for these R&D awards, a prospective company must follow five critical steps:STEP 1: DETERMINE ELIGIBILITYReview the size and ownership eligibility requirements that must be met to participate in the program. Requirements differ for each program; be sure to understand the limitations before moving on to the next steps.STEP 2: FIND A TOPICNext, review the Current Announcements to identify topics of interest. On the Current Announcement page you will find the Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) Topics for each Component in HTML, PDF and Microsoft Word formats. The links in this table list R&D topics either in Pre-Release or Open for proposal submission, plus additional instructions and requirements specific to the issuing component.The easiest way to identify topics of interest is to use the Topics Search Engine External Link, rather than reading every topic in each component's section. Once you find a topic, return to the Current Announcements page to read the component-specific instructions for that topic.STEP 3: ASK QUESTIONSDuring the BAA period, communication between small businesses and topic authors is highly encouraged. During the Pre-Release period, you may talk directly with topic authors, to ask technical questions about the topics. Their names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses are listed within each BAA topic.For reasons of competitive fairness, direct communication between proposers and topic authors is not allowed during the Open period when the Defense Department is accepting proposals. However, proposers may still submit written questions about BAA topics through the SBIR/STTR Interactive Topic Information System (SITIS). In SITIS, the questioner and respondent are anonymous, and all questions and answers are posted electronically for general viewing until the BAA closes.All proposers are advised to monitor SITIS during the Open BAA period for questions and answers and other significant information relevant to their SBIR/STTR topics of interest.STEP 4: PREPARE YOUR PROPOSALAll SBIR/STTR proposals must be prepared in accordance with the Proposal Preparation section of the program Announcement. Once logged into the SBIR Submission web site, prepare and submit a Phase I Proposal; prepare or update a Company Commercialization Report; and review proposal submission instructions, or get answers to frequently asked questions about the submission process.STEP 5: SUBMIT PROPOSALLastly, all SBIR/STTR proposals must be prepared and submitted electronically through the DoD SBIR/STTR Electronic Submission website, and in accordance with the program Announcement. When the BAA closes, the site will no longer accept changes to your proposal(s), although you will be able to view and print the proposals you have submitted.By capturing the tremendous and agile talents of the U.S. small business community, the SBIR program benefits the DoD, the private sector, and our national economy. "Doing business with us ensures peace through strength," says Ostrowski.