By Karen Axelton
The National Defense Authorization Act recently signed into law by President Obama has gained notoriety for expanding the scope of the federal government’s authority against terror suspects. Drawing less attention, but perhaps more interesting to small business owners, is that it also reauthorized the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs for six years, Policy Forum Blog reports.
The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program, administered by the SBA’s Office of Technology, aim to ensure that small, innovative high-tech businesses are involved in the federal government’s research and development efforts. Eleven federal departments participate in the SBIR program and five departments participate in the STTR program.
Both programs had been through temporary extensions for the past several years. In addition to a six-year reauthorization, the agreement, which was put forth by Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO), chair of the House Committee on Small Business, and Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX), chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, also includes these key changes:
- Greater participation by small businesses that have significant private capital support, increasing venture capital participation to 25 percent for the National Institute of Health, the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation, and 15 percent for other participating federal agencies;
- Increased award levels for both Phase I and Phase II. The award guidelines for SBIR and STTR will go from $100,000 to $150,000 for Phase I and from $750,000 to $1 million for Phase II; these are the first increases since 1982.
- Increasing the SBIR program allocation from 2.5 to 3.2 percent and the STTR allocation from .3 percent to .45 percent. This will enable more small businesses to compete for R&D funds.
- Standardizing parts of the application process across federal agencies to simplify the process for small businesses;
- Demanding better coordination between the SBA and participating agencies to guard against waste, fraud and abuse in both the SBIR and STTR programs;
- Requiring most agencies to review applications within 90 days, so that small businesses have a better idea of when they can expect a decision to be made;
- Setting forth performance-based standards that will encourage businesses to focus on commercialization.
“Because of this deal, businesses will have peace of mind for the next six years,” said Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), chair of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee. “The nation’s innovators will have more access to federal research dollars, and the process by which they get the funding will be more efficient because we cut down the time for final decisions and disbursements.”
Image by Flickr user Francisco Diez (Creative Commons)Google+