House Committee Examines SBIR Program

July 30, 2014

pic-tech-labOn July 23, 2013, the House Committee on Small Business held a hearing, “Oversight of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs (STTR) – Part II” to examine how the SBIR and STTR programs are working. The witnesses were the key agency staff charged with implementation and oversight of the two programs.

Committee Chair Sam Graves (R-Mo.) stated in his opening statement that, “The primary goals of the most recent and bipartisan legislation were to increase commercialization of SBIR funded research, to promote greater participation from a wider array of small businesses…”

The first witness, Javier Saade, Associate Administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) stated that, to implement the directives in the last SBIR reauthorization act, SBA established five working groups: 1) the Commercialization Group; 2) the Databases Group; 3) the Award Efficiency and Efficacy Group; 4) the Outreach and Communications Group; and 5) the Asset Mapping Group.

Marie Mak, Acting Director, U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) highlighted their 2013 report on Department of Defense (DOD) technology transfer which said that, while there has been success, the full extent of transition is unknown because of poor data collection. She went on to say that, despite requirements in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that instructed DOD to report SBIR technology transition to SBA, nothing substantive has been accomplished.

The next witness, Andre Gudger, Director, Office of Small Business Programs at DOD, highlighted the ways DOD has implemented the directives from the 2012 NDAA, in particular putting focus on improving technology transition and commercialization returns. Stating that DOD has implemented all related 34 provisions of the NDAA, Gudger also mentioned the creation of a new office at DOD focusing exclusively on transition and commercialization.

Finally, Matthew Portnoy, Program Manager for the National Institutes of Health SBIR/STTR programs, testified that NIH’s outreach efforts have been designed to attract more applications from underserved areas, women- and minority-owned businesses, and small disadvantaged businesses. Portnoy also pointed to a new website NIH is launching shortly that is expected to increase outreach and make it easier for new companies to engage with the NIH SBIR program.

This was the second of two hearings held by the House Committee on Small Business examining agencies’ compliance with the latest SBIR/STTR reauthorization. The first hearing focused on the private sector impressions of the programs.

Please click here to read the full testimony of these witnesses.