WASHINGTON -- Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) this week urged Congressional appropriators to include an additional $100 million in funding for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program at the Department of Defense. The House version of the Department’s spending bill included the funding to increase the use of small, high-tech businesses to help the military develop the best technologies, diversify the supply base, and reduce costs. The Senate and House are currently negotiating differences in the Department’s appropriations bill, and a final product could be unveiled as early as this week. In a letter sent to the Senate leaders of the Defense Appropriations subcommittee, Kerry and Harkin requested the additional funding included in the House bill be maintained in the final bill Congress sends to the President.

“My home state of Massachusetts is a great example of how SBIR funds not only stimulate the economy, but make great contributions to the strength and safety of our armed forces,” said Kerry, Chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. “With the second-most SBIR grants in the country, Massachusetts firms have developed cost-effective solutions for naval ship building and developed shatterproof protective eyewear and armor for our soldiers. By increasing the amount of money devoted to this program, we’ll keep developing the innovative technologies critical to our national security.”

“Strengthening this vital program means investing in our small businesses and local communities – ensuring that they stay strong and competitive in the global market,” said Harkin, a senior member of the Committee. “My home state of Iowa has reaped real benefits from the SBIR program and I’m hopeful that more businesses throughout the country will feel the same success.”

Kerry and Harkin, working with Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), the Ranking Member of the Committee, will be working on comprehensive legislation to renew the small business research program next year. On October 1, 2007, the Senate passed an amendment to temporarily extend the SBIR program through 2010 and prevent a shut-down or funding delays when the program expires in September 2008. The Senate also passed an amendment to extend a Defense Department pilot program that helps firms transition their projects to the marketplace.