Today the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology approved H.R. 1425, the Creating Jobs Through Small Business Innovation Act of 2011, reauthorizing the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program through fiscal year 2014.
"These programs play a vital role in expanding innovation, and increasing the role of small businesses in federal research and development," said Chairman Ralph Hall (R-TX). "Innovations developed through SBIR and STTR grants have in some cases led to rapid expansion, resulting in many new jobs for our nation."
H.R. 1425 is a comprehensive reauthorization of both programs and increases award amounts for Phase I and Phase II to $150,000 and $1 million, respectively. However, both the SBIR and STTR programs are considered "revenue neutral," because the programs are funded from amounts set aside from existing research and development budgets at participating agencies.
The bill enables small businesses that are majority venture capital backed to compete for a limited percentage of SBIR awards. Further, the legislation provides agencies the flexibility to use up to three percent of their program funds toward activities related to outreach, technical assistance, commercialization, program oversight and quality control.
In order to improve Congress's ability to conduct effective evaluations of the programs, this bill strengthens data collection requirements and evaluation measurement criteria. Further ensuring proper use of these funds, an amendment offered in the markup by Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Paul Broun (R-GA) would improve the detection of waste, fraud, and abuse in these programs. The amendment was approved by voice vote.
Another amendment approved today, offered by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), reduces the advance payment requirement of small businesses that have received SBIR and STTR awards that conduct work at National Laboratories and federally funded research and development centers.
Chairman Hall and other members of the majority worked with and approved an amendment by Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) which directs the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study of the success of the STTR program at stimulating innovation and promoting technology transfer.
Further expanding outreach efforts under these programs, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)offered an amendment to require the participating agencies to encourage applications from small businesses owned and controlled by persons with disabilities.
H.R. 1425 was unanimously reported out of Committee.