Subcommittee Approves Bill to Create Jobs by Helping Small Businesses Innovate
Washington D.C. – Today the Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation unanimously approved H.R. 1425 the Creating Jobs Through Small Business Innovation Act of 2011. The bill reauthorizes both the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program for three years.
Consistent with the recommendations of witnesses at a recent hearing on the programs, a major change to this bill is that it will enhance evaluation of the programs through greater data collection and sharing of best practices.
“This legislation requires rigorous evaluation of the programs to ensure that we are getting the greatest return on our taxpayer investment,” said Subcommittee Chairman Ben Quayle (R-AZ). “Currently, our ability to conduct effective evaluations is hampered by insufficient data collection and a lack of common measurement criteria among participating federal agencies. The legislation before us today would strengthen SBIR and STTR data collection requirements and evaluations, both at the individual agencies and within the management of the entire program at the Small Business Administration. This is particularly necessary in today’s budget environment.”
The SBIR and STTR programs have been operating under temporary extensions since their authorizations expired in 2008 and 2009, respectively. This bill would increase the size guidelines for award amounts for Phase I and Phase II awards to $150,000 and $1 million, respectively. It would also enable majority venture capital backed firms to participate in the program.
Both the SBIR and STTR programs are considered “revenue neutral,” because the awards come from existing appropriated funds that have already been provided to participating agencies. In today’s only recorded vote, Republicans defeated an amendment offered by Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) that would have added $10 million per year in costs to the programs, in order to provide state-based outreach grants through the Small Business Administration.
Several amendments were approved today, including one by Chairman Quayle to ensure that applications are peer reviewed at the National Institute of Health and the National Science Foundation, before awards are made. This amendment, which was approved by voice vote, gives these two agencies the flexibility to conduct a complete and rigorous review of the awards.
Two amendments offered by Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) were approved, both adding language related to creating jobs in the U.S.
An amendment offered by Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) was also approved, which would require federal agencies to encourage applications by small businesses that have historically been underrepresented in SBIR and STTR awards; including those located in rural areas; owned by women, veterans, or minorities; or located in areas with high unemployment. This amendment was structured in a way that it did not add any costs to the bill, and it was approved by voice vote.