New legislation will expand Small Business Innovation Research program and improve oversight


Washington (July 17, 2019) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today introduced legislation to strengthen and expand the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, which provides instrumental funding to “infant” industry research and development where obtaining private capital is not yet an option. The SBIR Expansion and Accountability Act would ensure that America’s innovative small businesses have additional access to the important capital provided through the SBIR program. The Small Business Administration (SBA) oversees this enormous distribution of capital, but does so under resource constraints and lacks the ability to ensure that participating agencies direct the appropriate amount of money to the SBIR program. Senator Markey’s legislation would codify the major tenets of the SBIR program and directs the SBA to report annually on whether federal agencies are meeting their participation and minimum spending requirements for the program under the Small Business Act. It would also provide access for small businesses to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) extramural research and development by removing the agency’s exemption from participating in the program. 


“Small businesses are the engine that drive our economic growth and create millions of jobs across America,” said Senator Markey, a member of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee. “As one of the most successful federal initiatives for technological innovation in our nation’s history, SBIR is the lifeblood for the innovative products that thousands of these businesses develop each year. We can build upon these established successes by ensuring that small business have access to every research dollar they deserve and providing the SBA with additional resources to administer the program.”


A copy of the SBIR Expansion and Accountability Act can be found HERE.


Specifically, the SBIR Expansion and Accountability Act:

  • Codifies the four tenants of the SBIR Program:
    • Stimulate technological innovation
    • Meet Federal research and development needs
    • Foster and encourage participation in innovation and entrepreneurship by women and socially or economically disadvantaged persons
    • Increase private-sector commercialization of innovations derived from federal research and development funding
  • Requires federal agencies that fail to meet minimum spending requirements to report to the Small Business Committee
  • Directs additional resources to the SBA’s Office of Investment and Innovation, which oversees the SBIR program


SBIR has a proven track record supporting job creation in innovative industries for almost four decades. In 2016, the 11 federal agencies that participate in the program provided more than $2.3 billion of small business investments through SBIR. To date, funding from the SBIR program has resulted in 70,000 issued patents, close to 700 public companies, and approximately $41 billion in venture capital investments.