Lawmakers joined by 22 members of Congress in letter urging protection of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program
WASHINGTON, DC – October 12, 2011– This morning, Representatives Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.), and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) sent a letter signed by a bipartisan group of 25 House members calling on the House Small Business Committee to preserve the Small Business Innovation and Research program (SBIR). SBIR has a proven track record supporting job creation in innovative industries for almost three decades.  Currently, the SBIR program provides instrumental funding to “infant” industry research and development where obtaining private capital is not yet an option. It is often described as the most successful federal government R&D program, having delivered more than 55,000 patents and hundreds of valuable innovations in a wide variety of industries.  Massachusetts has received the highest number of SBIR awards per capita of any state, totaling approximately $283 million in the last year alone.

The Small Business Innovation Research program is one of the most successful federal programs for technological innovation in our nation’s history,” said Rep. Markey, dean of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation. “Whether it is creating new, non-invasive approaches to detecting cancer in Watertown or developing painless bedside muscle evaluations for children in Woburn, SBIR pushes small businesses to new levels of discovery and success. We need a long term reauthorization of this program that brings certainty for the SBIR community while at the same time preserving the initial intent of the program - nurturing innovative small businesses.”
Despite this record of success, proposed changes to the program could significantly harm small businesses that now rely on SBIR.  These changes would allow companies that already have access to considerable private financing to crowd out many small and emerging businesses.
In a letter to the Small Business Committee, the lawmakers and their colleagues write: “As you continue your work on a long-term reauthorization of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, we urge you to ensure that any legislation brought to the House floor continues to reflect the program’s true intent: fostering innovative and cutting-edge research at small businesses.”

The members also ask the Committee in the letter to provide certainty for the small business community and enact a long-term reauthorization of the program, “We remain very concerned about the prospect of another short-term solution to extending this successful program. As representatives of Congressional districts where SBIR spurs innovation, creates jobs and exemplifies the successful possibilities of targeted government investment, we cannot risk letting this crucial program lapse.”

A copy of the letter to the Small Business Committee can be found HERE