The US Department of Defense has opened solicitation for its $540 million Small Business Innovation Research program for 2000. Applicants, which must be US-owned for-profit companies with fewer than 500 employees, can examine the available topics for research and development on the Web and question the topic's authors. Each topic serves a Department of Defense need and has commercial potential in military and other markets. The company retains intellectual property rights to the innovation. The department will accept proposals from Dec. 1 to Jan. 12. Phase I awardees will receive a six-month contract for up to $100,000 to test the topic's scientific and technical merit. The successful completion of the conceptual phase may result in a development contract of up to $750,000 for the production of a prototype. Further information, including stories of past awards, is available at www.acq.osd.mil/sadbu/sbir.