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Senate Passes SBIR/STTR Reauthorization in DoD Funding Bill

Capitol Building (A. Kotok)

(A. Kotok)

The U.S. Senate yesterday passed a reauthorization of the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR and STTR) programs through 2019. The reauthorization of the SBIR and STTR programs were included in the larger Department of Defense authorization for the current 2012 fiscal year that began on 1 October. The bill passed the Senate by a 93-7 margin.

The amendment to reauthorize SBIR and STTR was offered by Senators Mary Landrieu (D, La.) and and Olympia Snowe (R, Me.), with eight co-sponsors from both parties. If the amendment passes the House of Representatives and signed by the president, it will be the first long-term reauthorization of these programs since 2008. Since then, the program has been funded through a series of short-term extensions.

In a statement today, Biotechnology Industry Organization CEO Jim Greenwood says “SBIR grants are critical for supporting small companies with promising scientific innovation to continue critical research and development of medical advancements and breakthroughs.” Greenwood urged Congress to extend SBIR eligibility to “small companies that receive the majority of their financing from venture capital,” such as many biotechnology enterprises.

For SBIR programs, federal departments and agencies with more than $100 million in extramural research funding set aside 2.5 percent of the R&D budgets. Grants from these set-asides are made to U.S.-based companies with no more than 500 employees, and majority ownership by U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens.

SBIR programs have two main phases. Phase 1 tests the technical merit, feasibility, and commercial potential of a proposed idea. Phase 2, based on the results of phase 1, funds continued research and development of the proposed concept. An optional phase 3, funded by the individual agencies separately from the SBIR set-asides, supports commercialization of the research.

STTR aims to bridge the gap between academic research and the commercial marketplace. Requirements for STTR funding are similar to SBIR, but they require participation by academic or not-for-profit research institutes, as well as small businesses. Only five federal agencies — Departments of Defense, Energy, and HHS, as well as NASA and National Science Foundation — have STTR funding.

Read more: Small Business Research Grants Reauthorized in DADT Bill [Updated]

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