Senate to Consider SBIR Reauthorization Bill

March 23, 2011

The U.S. Senate next week is slated to consider the SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2011 (S. 493). The National Small Business Association strongly supports the legislation and urges the Senate to quickly adopt it.

Please click here to read NSBA’s letter of support.

The highly-successful Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, which studies have demonstrated is responsible for 25 percent of the most critical U.S. innovations of the last decade, currently is operating via its tenth short-term reauthorizations since 2008. Thankfully, S. 493 provides an eight year reauthorization. It is critical that this reauthorization period not be abbreviated.

Short-term reauthorizations fail to provide the program with a sufficient level of stability in the eyes of potential participants and investors. Participants also need sufficient time to progress through the program, for any future evaluations of SBIR.

The bill also contains a breakthrough compromise on the highly-contentious issue of Venture Capital (VC) participation in the program. Specifically, S. 493 would render firms that were majority owned and controlled by multiple VC firms eligible for up to 25 percent of the SBIR funds at the National Institutes for Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy. At the eight other participating agencies, these firms would be eligible for up to 15 percent of the funds.

S. 493 also increases the SBIR allocation by one percent—from 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent—over the next decade. It is important to note that this increased allocation is not an increase in federal R&D expenditures.

S. 493 was introduced by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), chair of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), ranking member of the committee, and cosponsored by Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), Jon Kerry (D-Mass.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)

In addition to NSBA, S. 493 has been endorsed by the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the National Venture Capital Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Small Business Technology Council.

Please take a moment to contact your senators and urge them to support the SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2011 (S. 493).