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ASA Supports Small Business Innovation and Technology Grant Funding

ASA urged congressional leadership to pass an extension of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs on an upcoming legislative vehicle that will be enacted soon.  The SBIR/STTR programs are currently set to expire on September 30, 2022. While we support a full reauthorization through regular order, the calendar realities in Congress this year and lack of legislative vehicles available prior to the termination date mean that it is a very real possibility that these programs could expire before a full reauthorization can be passed.  That would be a crushing blow to American innovation and undermine small business job creation during our nation’s economic recovery. The SBIR/STTR programs, established in 1982, have a proven track record.

As of 2019, the programs have provided over 179,000 awards, totaling more than $54.3 billion, to U.S. small businesses. A Defense Department assessment showed the SBIR/STTR programs have generated a 22:1 return for every federal dollar spent, and a study by the National Academy of Sciences found a commercialization rate of between 50-60% for SBIR/STTR investments.  SBIR and STTR are an essential part of America’s innovative high-tech ecosystem, and even the threat of a short-term disruption of these programs could have a severe effect on R&D-focused small businesses. Federal agencies could also see their research and technology development stalled by a disruption in these programs. Both small businesses and the agencies need certainty, stability, and predictability to budget and plan for the future; especially as the nation works to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the above in mind, ASA respectfully requested that they include an extension of the SBIR/STTR programs, including related pilot authorities, in an upcoming legislative vehicle, such as an upcoming government funding bill. This extension will give Congress the time it needs to develop and pass a comprehensive reauthorization bill for SBIR and STTR, one that includes needed changes and improvements. It will also give both small businesses and federal agencies the certainty that these vital programs will not expire or be disrupted.