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SBIR, STTR Bypassed in Stimulus Package

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Although none of the $10.4 billion in National Institutes of Health funding from the $787 billion stimulus package was marked to go to the two small business research funding efforts that NIH is supposed to fund, small businesses are invited to apply for funding through the $200 million the institutes have set aside for the new Challenge Grants program.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 included a passage saying that NIH could by-pass the laws which say that certain funding amounts to certain research agencies should go to the Small Business Innovation Research program and the Small Business Technology Transfer Program.

The Challenge Grants program will support research programs in areas that will address specific challenges in biomedical and behavioral research that would benefit from significant two-year jumpstart funds. NIH said last week it expects to fund roughly 200 or more grants of up to $1 million each under the program.

That funding does not match what US law would appear to dictate. The US Code holds that federally funded science agencies with extramural budgets over $100 million are to give 2.5 percent of their funds on the SBIR program and .3 percent to the STTR program.

It was not immediately clear if that law should have held for the stimulus funding, which is not a part of the NIH’s fiscal budget and has other unique restrictions and mandates not found in annual appropriations.

JoAnne Goodnight, who is NIH’s SBIR and STTR program coordinator, said in a letter yesterday addressed to the "small business research community" that she has received many correspondences about the programs.

She said that in addition to applying for Challenge Grants, small businesses also may apply for the $650 million NIH already has set aside for the programs. They also will be able to apply for administrative and competitive supplements that NIH is either offering already or will be offering soon.

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