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SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


SBIR/STTR REAUTHORIZATION ACT -- (House of Representatives - April 23, 2008)

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Mr. CHABOT. Madam Chairman, I rise in support of H.R. 5819, the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs Reauthorization Act.

These two programs are highly successful Federal initiatives designed to encourage economic growth and innovation within the small business community by assisting with the funding that is critical at the startup and developmental stages of a small company. Not only do they spur growth in individual companies, the programs stress the importance of the Small Business Committee's and the entire Federal Government's commitment to expand and diversify research opportunities for small businesses.

Created in 1982, the SBIR program offers competition-based awards to stimulate technological innovation among small private sector businesses while providing government agencies with new, cost-effective, technical and scientific solutions to meet their diverse needs. This program is not only critical to the unique needs of each of the participating Federal agencies but also to our national economy. Small businesses renew the U.S. economy by introducing new products and lower cost methods of doing business, sometimes with substantial economic benefits. They play a key role in introducing technologies to the market, often responding quickly to new market opportunities. Some of our Nation's greatest technological innovations were originated by small business owners tinkering in their workshops, including two very famous Ohioans, the Wright brothers.

Our committee worked very hard to produce the legislation we have before us today. We held several hearings on

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this topic over the last few months inviting the Small Business Administration, SBIR and STTR program managers from Federal agencies, various small businesses, and academics to discuss this program's successes and consider amendments that would improve it. I am happy to say that a great many of the ideas presented to the committee have found their way into this legislation.

For example, the bill requires agencies with an annual SBIR program of $50 million or more a year to create an SBIR advisory board to review the program quarterly and recommend improvements. We found throughout the course of our work that there is simply not enough hard evidence available to effectively measure the success or failure of the programs. Several of our witnesses touched on this subject, and the National Academy of Sciences mentioned it in its congressionally mandated study of the SBIR program.

The bill also states that agencies required to have an SBIR advisory board must complete an evaluation of the competitive SBIR proposals within specific time frames. This is important to ensure that potential awardees are reviewed promptly and effectively. Given the complexity and time-consuming nature of awarding an SBIR grant award application, it can be very difficult to plan your business' future without knowing its fate for months at a time.

The legislation also increases the size of maximum awards to allow grant winners greater ability to develop their new technologies and provides agencies even greater flexibility to administer the programs. The award levels have not been raised or adjusted for inflation in 16 years. Several of our witnesses commented that the levels, particularly for phase I, offer very little wiggle room.

Additionally, I believe this legislation finds an appropriate balance on the issues of venture capital companies' funding of SBIR participants. I would like to thank the gentleman from Missouri (Mr. Graves) for all of his hard work on this issue. Mr. Graves has been a champion on this matter for years and has consistently worked to find a solution that balances funding the best science with maintaining the integrity of the program's goals of helping small businesses. I understand Mr. Graves will be offering a perfecting amendment during this proceeding that effectively strikes this balance, and I would urge Members on both sides of this aisle to support the amendment.

I would also like to thank the gentlelady from New York and chairwoman of our committee, Ms. Velázquez, and her staff for working in such a strong bipartisan manner with me and other members of our committee and with our staff on this legislation. But this is nothing new. The gentlelady has consistently sought my input and Republican members on the committee's input on various bills that we reported out of the committee and how they should be crafted. Although we may not always agree on every issue or there may be philosophical undertones, the spirit of working together in an effort to produce legislation that truly helps American small businesses always prevails, and I congratulate and commend the gentlelady for doing that.

Again, I urge my colleagues to vote for this legislation.

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