WASHINGTON – United States Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chair and Appropriations Committee member, Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., praised the passage of the appropriations bill this weekend, which included $2 million to support the Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program – the first funding the program has seen in six years. The FAST program helps increase small businesses’ participation in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs to increase the technological competitiveness of a state and foster the startup and growth of high-technology companies in order to strengthen and diversify the local economy. The program proved successful, especially in rural areas, from its start in 2001 to 2004.

“Bringing the FAST program back to rural America is a key component to allowing small businesses in under-invested areas to build the technological infrastructure they need to succeed,” Senator Landrieu said. “About 20 percent of SBIR participants say they started their company in part because they received an SBIR award. With so many good scientists and engineers and innovative entrepreneurs out of work, outreach and counseling through FAST could help these entrepreneurs start a company and do important research for the country.”

“The rebirth of the FAST program after several years without funding will allow small businesses in rural states, like Louisiana, to regain the positive SBIR momentum that they gained during the previous FAST program,” said Roy Keller, who leads the FAST program in Louisiana and also serves as Director of the Louisiana Technology Transfer Office at Louisiana State University. “This type of outreach funding allows rural states to build the infrastructure necessary to help our companies to successfully compete for federal research and development funding.”

“Reviving the FAST program is very beneficial to research institutions like Louisiana Tech University and to the technology-based businesses operating within Louisiana,” said Kathy Wyatt, Director of the Technology Business Development Center at Louisiana Tech University. “This program can play a vital role in facilitating the commercialization of university technology, supporting the development of businesses located at the university’s technology business incubator, and attracting tenants for the research park that is currently under construction.”