INNOVATION, ENERGY, AND MANUFACTURING
SBIR: The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is a highly competitive program that encourages small businesses to explore their technological potential and provides the incentive to profit from its commercialization. By including qualified small businesses in the nation's research and development (R&D) arena, high-tech innovation is stimulated and the United States gains entrepreneurial spirit as it meets the specific research and development needs of the participating federal agencies. To learn more about the SBIR program, please visit http://www.sba.gov/aboutsba/sbaprograms/sbir/sbirstir/sbir_sbir_description.html.
STTR: The Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program is a crucial small business program that provides improved funding opportunities in the federal innovation R&D arena. Central to the program is a public/private sector partnership to include the joint venture opportunities for small business and the nation's premier nonprofit research institutions. STTR's most important role is to foster the innovation necessary to meet the nation's scientific and technological challenges in the 21st century. To learn more about the STTR program, please visit http://www.sba.gov/aboutsba/sbaprograms/sbir/sbirstir/SBIR_STTR_DESCRIPTION.html.
As a cosponsor of the legislation that established the SBIR program in 1982, and as former Chair and now Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Senator Snowe has long championed critical small business innovation programs such as the SBIR and STTR programs. These programs, which provide more than $2 billion annually in Federal R&D funding to our nation’s small businesses, are vital to helping them innovate and commercialize new technologies, products, and services. That is why the Chair Landrieu and Ranking Member Snowe introduced legislation (S. 493) that would make key improvements to the SBIR and STTR programs, which were last reauthorized in 2000 and 2001, respectively.
This bill, structured upon a comprehensive measure that the Committee passed unanimously, on a bipartisan basis in the 109th, 110th, and 111th Congresses, includes commonsense improvements, such as responsibly increasing Phase I and Phase II award sizes; infusing another $1 billion into our small business economy by increasing, over time, Federal agencies’ SBIR allocation by 40 percent and doubling their STTR budgets; establishing commercialization programs; and allowing limited involvement of firms majority-owned by venture capital companies in the SBIR program. These enhancements aim to incentivize more small businesses to participate in these essential innovation programs.
In this challenging economic climate, small businesses conducting innovative research are critical not only to our economic recovery but also to our nation’s ability to remain competitive in the global marketplace. The pivotal reforms in this bill represent a well-spring of indispensable technological-fuel that will spur our small businesses’ innovation engine and re-power our nation’s economy.
Small Business Technology:
Small businesses make up more than 99 percent of all businesses in the United States, and more and more are taking advantage of technological advancements to run their business. As small businesses have become more technology reliant, business-owners are finding that their requirements for high-speed internet and Internet security have grown exponentially.
Congress has been working to make sure high-speed Internet services are affordable and accessible to every business owner. High-speed Internet is a necessity, not an option, for business owners in the 21st century. Unfortunately, many of our nation’s rural-based small businesses do not have access to affordable Internet services. Technology, like high-speed Internet, is critical in ensuring that small businesses continue to be this nation’s true job generators and allow entrepreneurs to do what they do best, strengthen our economy.
The members of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship are aware that any regulatory or statutory change can have far reaching effects on the ability of entrepreneurs to succeed. This Committee will work to ensure that the interests of small businesses are kept in mind as changes to technology laws are made. The government must create an atmosphere that does not hinder business practices when exploring the issues of high-speed Internet, cyber security, Internet privacy, and other vital issues.
- Government Portal for SBIR/STTR Information: http://www.sbir.gov/
- SBA: State and Local Resources
- An Assessment of the SBIR Program (National Academy of Sciences): http://books.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11989
- Small Business Innovation Research: Information on Awards Made by NIH and DoD in Fiscal Years 2001 through 2004: http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-06-565
Through efforts to increase energy efficiency, small businesses can contribute to America’s energy security, help to combat global warming, and add to their bottom line all at the same time. The approximately 27 million small businesses in the United States comprise 99.7 percent of all domestic employer firms and produce approximately half of all the commercial and industrial energy in the United States. At the same time, small businesses account for more than half of our fuel consumption, and entrepreneurs need tools to reduce their energy costs and foster green innovation. In the 110th Congress, the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship held four Committee hearings to address these issues. For small businesses, greater energy efficiencies translate to greater profitability.
As former Chair and now Ranking Member of the Committee, and as longstanding steward of the environment, Senator Snowe firmly believes that small businesses should play a leading role in forging a solution to global climate change and rising energy prices. That is why Senator Snowe and the Committee worked to introduce small business energy efficiency legislation in the 110th Congress that was included as a title in the Energy Independence and Security Act (H.R. 6), which became public law on December 19, 2007. This title will not only help protect the environment by incentivizing small businesses to make a smaller carbon footprint, but will also significantly lower the energy costs for cash-strapped small businesses. With small businesses accounting for over half of our fuel consumption, this bill puts small businesses in the driver’s seat in the fight for a cleaner, greener future.
For more information on small business energy resources, please see visit the Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) website, or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star for Small Business website.
As Co-Chair, with Senator Lieberman (ID-CT), of the Senate Task Force on Manufacturing, Senator Snowe has long fought for the interests of small and medium sized manufacturers. Countless states across the nation have seen a dramatic decline in manufacturing employment in recent years. Additionally, small and medium manufacturers have historically faced particularly unfair challenges to doing business overseas. As such, Senator Snowe has introduced legislation to help these firms realize the benefits of tapping into large and potentially lucrative international markets for goods and services. Please see the Small Business Trade & Exporting issue tab for information on this bill.
One of the most vital programs available to sustain manufacturing businesses in these difficult economic times is the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a public-private entity that assists manufacturers in becoming more competitive.
Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP): The MEP is a nationwide network of not-for-profit centers in over 400 locations nationwide, serving all 50 states and Puerto Rico, which are linked together through the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). It is an invaluable federal program that provides technical assistance to small- and medium-sized manufacturers, enabling them to enhance productivity and competitiveness and thus create and retain jobs in the United States. Co-Chairs Snowe and Lieberman have long led the charge to secure adequate MEP funding. In the most recent Senate letter they spearheaded, the Senators requested a Fiscal Year 2010 appropriation of $131.8 million, the fully authorized level that Congress approved in 2007 as part of the America COMPETES Act. President Obama, as well as the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, have called for $124.7 million in MEP funding for Fiscal Year 2010, a much needed increase. Senator Snowe will continue to lead the fight for increased MEP funding in future appropriations cycles.
Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP): http://www.mep.nist.gov/
Department of Commerce’s manufacturing.gov website: http://www.manufacturing.gov/
The Department of Commerce’s Sustainable Business Clearinghouse: http://trade.gov/competitiveness/sustainablemanufacturing/Resource_clearinghouse.asp