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House Lawmakers Reviewing SBIR, STTR Reauthorization Bill

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Members of a congressional committee on small business met today to discuss renewing two programs that provide funding to small and fledgling biotechnology and genomics businesses.
 
Under the bill, the Small Business Innovation Research program, which began in 1982 and will reach its sunset at the end of September, and the Science and Technology Transfer Research program will be extended through 2012.
 
Yesterday, the Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation passed the Science and Technology Innovation Act of 2008 on to the House Committee on Small Business, which was scheduled to mark up the bill today.
 
“SBIR and STTR are key components of our innovation agenda,” subcommittee Chairman David Wu (D – Ore.) said yesterday in a statement. “For more than 20 years, these programs have helped companies with innovative ideas bring their products to market,” he said.
 
A number of the adjustments to the bill would increase SBIR and STTR funding levels for many grants.
 
SBIR grants fund small high-tech firms involved in innovative research that is relevant to federal agencies, and STTR grants support small businesses that are working cooperatively with universities or nonprofits.
 
The new authorization was influenced, in part, by a meeting last year that the Technology and Innovation Subcommittee held with interested parties.
 
This draft of the bill would reauthorize the programs through 2010 and would give Congress time to examine how the programs are working. The bill also would increase funding levels, raising Phase I awards from $100,000 to $300,000 and Phase II awards from $750,000 to $2.2 million, to reflect the rising costs of high-tech research.
 
The authorization also increases the SBIR program’s flexibility by allowing cross-agency awards, letting applicants apply directly for Phase II funding, and loosening eligibility for awards to include small businesses that are backed by venture capital funding. The bill expands the requirements for databases of recipients and it requires interoperability and accessibility between databases in order to allow for better congressional oversight.
 
In order to ensure controlled non-research spending, the bill also allows no more than three percent of the program’s funds to go to administrative costs.
 
The bill also calls for the establishment of a director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy and for the existing director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology to report to Congress on best practices for commercialization of results from research funded by SBIR and STTR.
 
Recent companies covered by GenomeWeb Daily News that received SBIR funding include Genomas, Quantumbio, Microchip Biotechnologies, and Compendia, among others.
 
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