(Washington, DC) – Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-Md.) joined U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Committee Chairman Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) yesterday to introduce the SBIR and STTR Permanency and Improvement Act of 2019—legislation to make permanent and strengthen the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. The programs award competitive contracts to small businesses to develop innovative technologies that keep the U.S. economy competitive, and address national security and public health needs.

“SBIR and STTR represent the best of government-industry partnerships, especially in Maryland, which is the number one state in the nation for research and development spending,” said Cardin. “The programs harness the creativity and ingenuity of America’s small businesses to solve the most pressing public health and national security challenges of our time, such as developing a malaria vaccine and critical cybersecurity applications. This bipartisan bill will ensure that SBIR and STTR will continue to foster growth in the small, high-tech companies that are creating jobs that lift families into the middle class. It would provide stability with permanency, more funding for small businesses to partner on promising technologies, and accelerate the slow award times that hold back needed innovations.”

“New Hampshire invests millions of dollars from SBIR and STTR grant funding every year, boosting research and development opportunities at our companies and academic institutions throughout the state. These federal programs help ensure New Hampshire has a level playing field to stay at the forefront of innovation, which is why I’m excited to work with Senator Rubio to see that the SBIR and STTR programs are permanently reauthorized,” said Shaheen. “The bipartisan support that SBIR and STTR enjoy speaks volumes to the success of these programs in unleashing the ground-breaking potential of America’s high-tech small businesses.”

“As foreign nations like China use state-owned, state-directed actors to undermine American companies and foreign competition, it is in our national interest to prioritize strategic domestic investments in our advanced industrial industries,” Rubio said. “Increasing our investment in research and development technologies through the SBIR and STTR programs is critical to that effort. As we work on a bipartisan, comprehensive reauthorization of the Small Business Act, strengthening these investment programs in order to advance the technological capabilities of federal agencies and small businesses is crucial. I appreciate working with Senator Shaheen and Ranking Member Cardin on this important bipartisan legislation.”

The SBIR and STTR programs support the growth of small, high-tech companies by leveraging a small percentage of federal research and development funding. The programs allow small businesses to support federal agencies through contracts in such areas as aerospace engineering, public health and national security. The SBIR and STTR programs have also resulted in a valuable return on investment for taxpayers.

Maryland ranks as the number one state in the nation in research and development spending due to the presence of federal and academic research institutions, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland.

Last year, Ranking Member Cardin spoke at a technology transfer summit hosted by the State of Maryland and NIST, where leaders across the state shared ideas and solutions on how to foster technology transfer and commercialization in Maryland’s federal and university labs.

Last month, the Small Business Committee heard testimony from Dr. Stephen Hoffman, the founder of Sanaria—a biotechnology company based in Rockville, MD that is developing a vaccine for the malaria virus in partnership with NIH. During the hearing, Dr. Hoffman shared that Sanaria “would not be here today without the initial and continuing support of the SBIR program.” The company is scheduled to begin clinical trials for an FDA approved vaccine next year.

Specifically, the SBIR and STTR Permanency and Improvement Act of 2019 would:

  • Gradually increase the allocation of SBIR and STTR awards in order to make more awards and explore more innovations;
  • Make these vital programs permanent to provide certainty to small business innovators and federal agencies alike; and
  • Implement initiatives to reduce duplicative reporting for small businesses, speed up the review of applications, and simplify program implementation for agencies.

Text of the legislation is available here.