Press Release

Subcommittee Surveys Small Business R&D Programs

By SpaceRef Editor
June 27, 2007
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(Washington, DC) – Members of the Science & Technology Committee Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation took a closer look today at the work and progress of the Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR) with an eye toward reauthorizing SBIR and STTR in the 110th Congress.

Today’s hearing follows up on an earlier one that focused on challenges to the SBIR program from the perspective of non-governmental experts. Today, Members heard from the managers of the five largest federal programs, which are within the Departments of Defense (DoD), Health and Human Services (HHS), Energy (DOE), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

“Much has changed since the SBIR legislation became law 25 years ago,” said Subcommittee Chairman David Wu (D-OR). “The size of that program has grown to $1.9 billion in FY05, the cost of doing research has increased dramatically and the management of the program is much more time-consuming and complicated.”

The SBIR was established in 1982 to increase participation of small, high-technology firms in federal research and development activities and to develop technologies that can be commercialized. STTR was established 10 years later to fund R&D conducted jointly by small businesses and research institutions.

The hearing focused on key issues to provide guidance in drafting reauthorization legislation, among them: Award Size – SBIR Award levels have not been increased since 1992. Technology Transfer – SBIR and STTR fund innovative, high risk technology projects. Commercialization assistance is needed to bring products to market. Support for Outreach Program – Agencies are encouraged to implement outreach programs to encourage new applicants, women, and socially or economically disadvantaged participants. But administrative costs can not be funded out of program dollars.

Today’s witnesses were: Mr. Michael Caccuitto, Office of Small Business Programs, Department of Defense; Ms. Jo Anne Goodnight, Office of Extramural Research, National Institutes of Health, HHS; Mr. Larry James, Small Business Research Division, DOE; Mr. Douglas Comstock, Director of the Innovative Partnerships Program Office, NASA; Dr. Kesh Narayanan, Director of the Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships in the Directorate for Engineering, NSF.

“Our witnesses have seen SBIR grow from a very small program to the largest government program which supports research and development at small companies,” Wu added. “It is important that we hear from them as we move forward in crafting legislation to make the program operation more efficient and to maximize the benefits to the public for their investment.”

SpaceRef staff editor.