Washington — Senator Evan Bayh today introduced legislation to double the funding of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program over the next five years to provide more resources for cutting-edge research and development by entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Currently, all federal agencies with external R&D budgets exceeding $100 million are required to set aside 2.5 percent to support research and development efforts of small businesses. The Bayh legislation introduced today would double that set aside amount to 5 percent.

“Small businesses are a leading engine for America’s economic growth. They foster innovation, create new jobs, and provide employment opportunities for middle class Americans,” Senator Bayh said. “Our nation’s leadership in the global economy is built on the foundation laid by entrepreneurs. Doubling the SBIR funding available to our small businesses is a critical investment in our nation’s economic future.”

Across the country, small businesses have provided as much as 80 percent of net new jobs over the last decade. Small businesses employ 41 percent of the nation’s high tech workers and generate 13 to 14 times more patents per employee than large firms. As well, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, approximately 1 in 4 SBIR projects will result in the sale of new commercial products or processes.

Each year, about $2 billion is awarded through the SBIR program to about 5,000 small businesses nationally for innovations ranging from the latest technology in military and security devices to advances in agriculture, manufacturing, biotechnology, and medicine.