WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), today opened the Senate’s debate on a bill to promote job creation through the development of cutting edge technology by small businesses. As Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Senator Snowe noted the bill, S.493, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Reauthorization Act, gives small firms the ability to develop innovative technology, bring their innovations to market and create new jobs within the United States. The measure was approved by the Senate’s Small Business Committee on March 9 by a vote of 18 – 1.

“This is a successful program that has led to life-changing technologies including LASIK eye surgery, advanced body armour for our military, and medical devices for early cancer screening,” said Senator Snowe. “Continuing this program will mean more high-paying jobs for families in Maine and elsewhere. Small businesses are our nation’s job generators, employing more than half of all private sector employees and creating 64 percent of the net new jobs over the past 15 years.  They also represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms.  Small businesses are also our nation’s most effective innovators, producing roughly 13 times more patents per employee than large firms – patents which are at least two times as likely to be among the top one-percent of high-impact patents.  Program participants have produced more than 85,000 patents and have generated millions of well-paying jobs across all 50 states.”

Video of Senator Snowe’s remarks can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Grv1dLgoD0

Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee members have tried since 2006 to get a bill to the President’s desk that provides a long-term reauthorization to operate these programs.  In December of last year, the Senate was able to pass and send to the House a new compromise that blended the House and Senate bills, bringing together advocates that had been divided for over six years.   The compromise continues to have the support of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the Small Business Technology Council, the National Small Business Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the National Venture Capital Association, local technology groups, and various universities.