WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chair Mary L. Landrieu, D-La. and Ranking Member Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) today introduced comprehensive legislation to reauthorize the Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs for the next eight years.  They were joined by former Chair John Kerry, D-Mass., and Committee Members Senators Scott Brown, R-Mass., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., Ben Cardin, Md., Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and Carl Levin, D-Mich., in reintroducing the bill, which is a version of S. 4053 that passed the Senate unanimously late last Congress.

“I was personally shocked in the aftermath of Katrina to be standing on the platform of the Superdome with an entire region under water, literally hundreds of thousands of people screaming for help, and the phone technology we had just five and half years ago was not sufficient to organize that evacuation,” Senator Landrieu said in her opening statement at a Small Business Committee hearing on SBIR and STTR last month.  

“We must fight until we see victory for a program that takes the brainchild of a scientist and turns the dream into an innovation,” said Senator Landrieu.  “The SBIR and STTR programs are responsible for everything from communications equipment needed by first responders to the electronic toothbrush millions of Americans use every day.  Successful partnerships between the government and the private sector are important to keep America’s small businesses competitive both nationally and abroad.”  

 “The bill my colleagues and I are introducing today represents a landmark consensus package that has garnered the unprecedented support of stakeholders on all sides, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and NFIB, to once and for all enact the long-term reauthorization of the critical SBIR and STTR programs,” said Senator Snowe.  “These crucial job-creation programs foster an environment of innovative entrepreneurship for the nation’s small firms most likely to create jobs and commercialize their products, and it is critical that we provide these programs with certainty for the future.   I look forward to marking up this legislation and to passing it in the full Senate, and also to working with House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves to craft bipartisan, bicameral legislation to once and for all complete this reauthorization process.”

Technology created through the SBIR and STTR programs have changed the way we communicate, improved the safety of our soldiers and emergency responders, and made advancements in the field of medicine. Today, Qualcomm, a wireless communication technology company that was an early SBIR participant, has more than 17,000 employees, contributes approximately $5.5 billion to the San Diego economy and pays more in taxes than SBA’s annual budget.   And in the future, soldiers will travel safely with long-distance IED detection equipment that Physical Sciences Inc. is developing.

Through the leadership of Senators Kerry, Snowe, and now, Chair Landrieu, the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee has tried since 2006 to get a bill to the President’s desk that provides a long-term reauthorization to operate these critical programs.  On December 22, 2010, the Senate passed and sent to the House a new compromise; however the House was unable to consider the bill before the end of the 111th Congress.  The compromise blended the House and Senate bills, bringing together advocates that had previously been divided.   The compromise continues to have the support of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), the Small Business Technology Coalition (SBTC), the National Small Business Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), the National Venture Capital Association, local technology groups, and various universities. 

Congress established the SBIR program in 1982, and the STTR program in 1992, to, among other things, help meet the government’s research and development needs through small businesses. The last comprehensive reauthorization of the SBIR program occurred in 2000, when Congress reauthorized the program for eight years, and STTR was last reauthorized in 2001, also for eight years. The programs have been subject to numerous temporary extensions since their expirations. 

To view the text of the bill, click here.

To view highlights of the compromise, click here