Committee Approves SBIR/STTR BillMay 18, 2016
On May 11, the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship overwhelmingly approved the SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2016 (S. 2812). Prior to the committee marking up the legislation, NSBA sent a letter to the committee urging them to swiftly approve the legislation. The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are set to expire in 2017and funnel critical funds to small businesses conducting research and development (R&D), while working with the federal government to meet its needs as well.
S. 2812 differs from the House reauthorization legislation, the Commercializing on Small Business Innovation Act of 2016 (H.R. 4783) that was approved by the House Committee on Small Business in March in several respects. S. 2812 would make the SBIR and STTR programs permanent, whereas H.R. 4783 only reauthorizes the programs through 2022. The most recent reauthorization spanned several years and over ten continuing resolutions before the program was finally reauthorized. S. 2812 also increases the amount of funding that is directed towards the SBIR and STTR programs, up to six percent of qualifying federal agencies R&D funding in 2028.
After moving through committee, Chairman David Vitter (R-La.) and Ranking Member Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) were able to attach the measure–permanent reauthorization of the SBIR and STTR programs within the Department of Defense in the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act currently working its way through the Senate and House. The next step will be to bring S. 2812 to the floor for full consideration.
Rapid Innovation Fund
The following day, on May 12, NSBA sent a letter to the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chairman David Vitter and Ranking Member Jeanne Shaheen commending them for introducing and cosponsoring the Rapid Innovation Fund Enhancement Act of 2016 (S. 2792). The Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) program provides up to $3 million in funding to commercialize products for government use.
The RIF program has had success bringing small businesses involved in the SBIR or STTR programs forward from Phase II to actually commercializing and selling their product. Building on the success and interaction of these two programs in the past, S. 2792 will dedicate at least one percent of eligible RIF funds to SBIR and STTR businesses. The legislation further encourages the award of funds to businesses that are involved in the SBIR and STTR programs. If enacted, this legislation would ensure that there are always funds available through RIF to bring the innovative ideas of SBIR and STTR companies to commercialization and would begin to address the funding gap that often stalls innovations following the completion of Phase II in the SBIR and STTR programs.
NSBA continuously works to ensure that small businesses have a level playing field on which to compete for contracts with the federal government. Small businesses are in many ways more nimble than larger contractors and have incredible innovative capacity. It has been a long-standing priority of NSBA to advocate for the expansion of programs that recognize the potential of small businesses to provide valuable innovations to the federal government and ensure that small businesses are given a fair opportunity to compete. NSBA is pleased that the proposed changes to the SBIR, STTR and RIF programs all do so.
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