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Small Business Committee Members: Longevity and Stability for Small Business R&D Programs

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Location: Washington, DC

Following the release of the National Defense Authorization Conference Report, Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Mary L. Landrieu, D-La. and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, along with committee members Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Scott Brown, R-Mass., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., made the following remarks in regard to the reauthorization of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs for another six years. Prior to this reauthorization, the SBIR program survived through 14 temporary extensions since September 2008 and the STTR program was extended 11 times since September 2009.

"This has been an uphill battle, but we made it," Senator Landrieu said. "First, thanks to Senators Levin and McCain. With their help, we successfully got a long-term extension included in the version of the National Defense Authorization Act that passed the Senate. Then, last week, at my request, we had several meetings with our House counterparts to work out the final details and get this agreement done.

"Because of this deal, businesses will have peace of mind for the next six years. The nation's innovators will have more access to federal research dollars, and the process by which they get the funding will be more efficient because we cut down the time for final decisions and disbursements."

"The long-term reauthorization of the SBIR and STTR programs is long overdue. I have fought since 2006, as Chair of the Small Business Committee, to provide these critical small business initiatives with certainty, and to make significant improvements to them," Senator Snowe said. "A six-year reauthorization, increased allocations and award sizes, and the Senate framework on the venture capital compromise all help ensure that these measure remain "small business' programs, which has been my longstanding goal in seeking this reauthorization. Additionally, continuing these programs will mean more high-paying jobs for families in Maine and elsewhere. I thank Chair Landrieu for her tireless leadership in this matter, and thank the leaders of the House Small Business and Science Committees for their partnership, as well as leaders of the Armed Services Committees in both chambers. And I thank Senators Scott Brown and Kelly Ayotte for being key forces in helping us reach this deal. Their work, as new members of both the Senate Small Business and Armed Services Committees, proved invaluable in getting to yes," Senator Snowe concluded.

"These programs have helped turn ideas into reality and everyone in America benefits from the resulting advances in medicine, cleaner energy sources and stronger economy. But our entrepreneurs can't do it without resources, that's why it makes sense to reauthorize these programs and keep America on the cutting edge of innovation," Senator Kerry said.

"Small businesses are the backbone of New Hampshire's economy and we need to support their efforts to grow, create new jobs, and remain competitive in today's global economy," Senator Shaheen said. "Innovation is key to American success, and SBIR has provided a critical boost to many innovative small companies that have gone on find to great success. As a member of the Senate Small Business Committee, I am committed to working with my colleagues to get a long-term reauthorization of the SBIR program signed into law."

"I'm thrilled that the SBIR and STTR programs have finally been reauthorized for the businesses and jobs that rely on them. I was proud to join other Senate Small Business Committee members in fighting for the program's preservation," Senator Brown said. I'm pleased that two of my original amendments were included in the package, including requirements on agencies to reduce the paperwork burden on small businesses and to respond to applicants within 90 days so that small businesses in Massachusetts are not waiting indefinitely. I am confident this reauthorization will give this successful jobs program and small businesses the security they so badly need."

"SBIR provides tremendous opportunities to America's small businesses, generating increased growth and supporting their innovative contributions to our national security," Senator Ayotte said. "I'm pleased that Senate and House conferees have approved a long-term reauthorization of this important program."

During the Senate's consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act, nearly 400 amendments were considered and only eight of them received votes. The amendment to reauthorize SBIR/STTR was one of those eight, and had such strong support in the Senate that it was unanimously agreed to by voice vote.

Key provisions in the conference report include:

* reauthorizing SBIR and STTR for six years,

* increasing the SBIR allocation from 2.5 percent to 3.2 percent over several years,

* increasing the STTR allocation from .3 percent to .45 percent over six years,

* increasing VC participation to 25 percent for NIH, DOE, and NSF, and 15 percent for other agencies,

* shortening the time for final decisions to 90 days,

* shortening the amount of time between decision and release of funds, with flexibility for the NIH, and

* allowing the agencies to use 3 percent of SBIR funds to administer SBIR programs, increase oversight, and provide outreach and application assistance to address shortcomings in the low participation of women, minorities and states with few awards.

Enacted by Congress in 1982, the SBIR program is the largest federal research and development program for small businesses and one of the largest examples of U.S. public-private partnerships. The program allows small businesses to compete for a portion of federal research dollars in order to help the agencies meet their many missions. By including small businesses in the nation's R&D efforts, SBIR grants and contracts are intended to stimulate innovative solutions to help the agencies meet specific research and development needs, and move the ideas from lab to market, whether for the government or commercial purposes.


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