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Update on SBIR Reauthorization

Mark Marich

Late on Monday (07/13/2009), the Senate passed S. 1233 via unanimous consent. This bill would reauthorize the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs through 2023 and change the eligibility criterion for VC-backed firms. This bill would let the National Institutes of Health (NIH) award up to 18 percent of its SBIR funds to start ups majority-owned and controlled by multiple venture firms, while other agencies managing SBIR funds would be able to apply up to 8 percent of SBIR dollars to those firms.

Among the amendments included on Monday is one that says earmarking of SBIR award funds should be avoided, and that SBIR funds must be competitive and merit based. 

The House passed its version of the reauthorization last week (see our post about it, here).

What's the next step? There will be a conference committee of House and Senate members that will either arrive at a compromise bill or fail to reach an agreement. In case of a compromise, the final bill gets sent to President Obama for his signature. In the latter case, another Continuing Resolution (CR) either will be considered, or the SBIR program will lapse (STTR does not expire until September 30, 2009). We will keep you informed.

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