House Passes Small Business Technological Innovation and Research Bill
The House passed The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Reauthorization Act, H.R. 5819, today by a vote of 368 to 43. The bill extends the SBIR and STTR programs through fiscal year 2010.
"These programs are examples of highly successful federal initiatives designed to encourage economic growth and innovation within the small business community," said Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH), who serves as Ranking Member of the House Small Business Committee. "Small businesses are uniquely qualified to respond quickly to new market opportunities, which will keep our nation on the cutting edge of technological advancement."
Created in 1982, the SBIR and STTR programs give the proverbial little guy with a big idea the chance to see it through to fruition. The programs offer competition based awards to stimulate technological innovation among small private-sector businesses, while providing government agencies new, cost-effective technical and scientific solutions to meet their needs. As Chabot noted on the House floor, "some of the greatest technological innovations came about from small business owners tinkering in their workshops, including two very famous Ohioans - the Wright Brothers."
The legislation updates the SBIR and STTR programs, providing greater flexibility for participating federal agencies to administer the programs. Among the changes is the requirement that agencies with SBIR or STTR budgets greater than $50 million create an advisory board to review the program quarterly and recommend improvements. Additionally, the bill states agencies must ensure awardees are dealt with promptly and efficiently.
As the bill moves forward, Congressman Chabot is committed to ensuring that the program remains focused on small businesses and not on small businesses owned by large companies. On the House floor, he indicated that there will be a "continued effort to strike the balance between funding the best science and maintaining the program's goal of helping small businesses."
Reauthorizing the SBIR and STTR programs also provides tertiary economic benefits. Angel, venture capital and other early-stage investors rely on promising proof of a small business' concept to make investment decisions, and winning an SBIR or STTR award opens up opportunities for small businesses to find the financial backing to grow their companies and, ultimately, the economy.