WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., and Senator Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship respectively, held a hearing this morning to discuss the reauthorization of the Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. 

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 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.  

Testifying before the Committee today were co-founders of successful SBIR firms, including Qualcomm, which credits the SBIR program for funding promising ideas in its infancy.  Today, it has more than 17,000 employees and pays more in taxes than it takes to fund the entire SBA’s annual budget.  The Committee also heard findings to support reauthorization for the SBIR and STTR programs from an expert of the National Academies’, the gold standard for scientific review in this country.  Last, the Committee heard from key small business organization representatives, who explained why their members support the programs and want the compromise that passed on December 2 to move as quickly as possible. 

“After today’s hearing, there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the SBIR and STTR programs are effective at translating ideas into products, provide a good return on investment, and in need of long-term reauthorization,” said Senator Landrieu.  “The Agencies of the federal government that participate in the programs, and the entrepreneurs that depend on their smooth operation, deserve our best efforts to get this to the President’s desk.”

“In December of last year, we were 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 about six years.   The compromise continues to have the support of BIO, SBTC, the National Small Business Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the NFIB, the National Venture Capital Association, local technology groups, and various universities.  I’m hoping with the fire power behind this compromise, we will give small businesses and America’s innovators the confidence to invest in these programs.”

“Today’s hearing marks what I hope will be a bipartisan and bicameral process in the 112th Congress to finally, once and for all, secure a long-term reauthorization of the SBIR and STTR programs, which are vital small business job creation initiatives,” said Ranking Member Snowe.  “Late last Congress, Chair Landrieu and I developed a landmark consensus package that garnered the unprecedented support by stakeholders on all sides, and that bill passed the Senate unanimously; regrettably the House was unable to consider the measure before the 111th Congress expired.  I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Committee – and new House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves – to pass this legislation in the near future.”

Congress established he 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 the program was reauthorized for eight years. The program has since received numerous temporary extensions since October 2008.  The STTR was last reauthorized in 2001, also for eight years. 

To view testimony from the hearing, please click here.