SBIR Reauth Introduced in Senate

April 20, 2016

pic-tech-innovate-smOn April 13, the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Ranking Member Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) introduced the SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2016 (S. 2793). The legislation is cosponsored by Committee Chairman David Vitter (R-La.) as well as committee member Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.). The legislation would permanently reauthorize the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. The programs are currently set to expire in 2017.

The SBIR and STTR programs provide vital capital to small businesses operating on the cutting edge of technology. SBIR is the leading source of early-stage research and development (R&D) funding throughout the country. The programs essentially require that federal agencies with research and development budgets commit a portion of those resources to small companies through a highly competitive and transparent bidding process. Over the course of the programs’ 35 year histories, they have generated more than 70,000 patents.

The last reauthorization of the programs required numerous continuing resolutions and took more than a year to approve. In order to avoid those same problems, both the House and Senate have begun work on legislation early in the legislative calendar. Last month, the House Committee on Small Business approved SBIR and STTR reauthorization legislation. The Commercializing on Small Business Innovation Act of 2016 (H.R. 4783) was introduced by committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) and cosponsored by Ranking Member Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.). NSBA sent a letter of support for H.R. 4783 to the committee in advance of the markup.

While both H.R. 4783 and S. 2793 look to reauthorize the programs there are some key differences between the two bills. The Senate bill, seeks to make the programs permanent, meaning that it will not need to be periodically reauthorized by Congress. H.R. 4783 instead seeks only to reauthorize the programs through 2022, at which point Congress will need to act to prevent the programs from shutting down. The other key difference is in the level of funding the bills require be devoted to the programs. Under H.R. 4783, the levels of funding for the programs would increase each year during the authorization, culminating with 4.5 percent of federal R&D funding funneled to the SBIR program and 0.6 percent into the STTR program in 2022. Meanwhile, S. 2793 calls for most agencies to increase their funding levels from 3.2 percent in 2018 to 6 percent in 2028.

NSBA supports the reauthorization of the SBIR and STTR programs as they provide vital capital to companies conducting the research and development that spurs innovation across the country. These programs have a history of driving innovation across the country and also providing excellent return on investment to taxpayers in the form of technology supplied to government through contracts. It is imperative that Congress acts this year to reauthorize the programs in order to prevent the uncertainty that brought the programs to a virtual standstill during the last reauthorization process.

Click here to urge your elected officials to support SBIR and STTR reauthorization.