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Legislative Initiatives to Modernize & Strengthen SBIR and STTR

Mark Marich

PDE staff were on hand last week for a hearing held by the House Small Business Subcommitte on Contracting and Technology. Our report of the hearing--Legislative Initiatives to Strengthen and Modernize the SBIR and STTR Programs--follows:

The reauthorization of the Small Business and Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs were also the topic of a hearing last week in House of Representatives (we also covered the Senate hearing on this issue). The House Small Business Committee’s Subcommittee on Contracting and Technology Hearing gathered several industry experts to testify and give recommendations on updating these programs. 
The industry experts included representatives from the Biotechnology Industry Organization, Aerospace Industries Association, Medical Device Manufacturers Association, National Venture Capital Association and AdvaMed. They testified on the importance of SBIR and STTR grants to their respective industries and the steps that could be taken to strengthen the programs to allow for more entrepreneurs to benefit from these opportunities. 

Witnesses’ recommendations focused on making the SBIR and STTR programs more effective in helping ideas and innovations get off the ground and addressing the “valley of death” stage in the innovation phenomenon – bridging the idea stage of an innovation and the production stage.

The witnesses unanimously suggested that the allotment of money granted by the SBIR and STTR programs be increased.  It was argued that money awarded by the grants should be significant enough to fund projects and to make applying for the grants more worthwhile. Several of the industry experts also recommended the reauthorized programs should allow small-businesses that are backed by venture capitalists to be allowed to apply for the SBIR and STTR grants, arguing that these restrictions impede many small-businesses and entrepreneurs from accessing grant funds that could be used to jump-start their projects.  Another recommendation put forward was that the requirement of applying for Phase I grants in order to be eligible for Phase II grants be lifted.  The industry experts were confident that these recommendations would improve the SBIR and STTR programs and allow entrepreneurs and the best and brightest in their respective fields to access grants that will lead to progress and innovation.

The Committee made this hearing available on its YouTube channel.


[Reported by Sahar Momand]

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