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Innovation Nation: One Step Congress Can Take to Help Small Businesses

Committee Getting a “Jump Start” on Reauthorizing Two Key SBA Programs

Washington, March 2, 2016 | comments
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SBIR/STTR Help Small Firms Get New, Life-Saving Technology to Market

WASHINGTON – Today, House Committee on Small Business Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) announced at a hearing that he will begin the process for reauthorizing two key programs administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to help small firms perform research and development in the science and technology sectors. The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are set to expire next year and early reauthorization would give stability and predictability to thousands of American entrepreneurs.

“Innovation is the engine that drives our economy. Technological breakthroughs and the entrepreneurship it spurs build our economy by finding state-of-the-art solutions to difficult problems and marketing those new products,” said Chairman Chabot. “This correlation is particularly important in the small business arena. Small businesses tend to be more nimble, responding to market changes more rapidly than their bigger counterparts, and they drive the innovation sector and make us more agile in the global economy.”

“In this era of globalization, making it easier for small businesses to develop and commercialize new, innovative products is essential for America’s competitiveness and national security. This is why programs like SBIR and STTR are so important,” Chabot added.

Today’s panel was the first in a two-part series on “Commercializing on Innovation: Reauthorizing the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs.” The next event will be a field hearing in Lynn, Massachusetts on Tuesday, March 8, 2016.

Key Witness Testimony:

Robert Smith, Director of the SBIR/STTR Programs at the Office of Naval Research, pointed to two examples of technologies developed by small businesses using the programs in his testimony:

"Two examples of outstanding Navy SBIR/STTR contributions to our Military and our Nation are EMILY and Automated Celestial Navigation:

· The Emergency Integrated Lifesaving Lanyard – called EMILY -- is a robotic lifeguard deployed world-wide by Hydronalix, a rural Arizona company. Several of EMILY’s technologies derive from a 1991 Office of Naval Research STTR project to track whale migration. The tracking system, reconfigured as the Silver Fox Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV), was deployed in 2007 to provide convoy protection to Marines in Iraq, saving 3 lives. The same basic technology package, reconfigured as EMILY, is supporting first responders throughout the U.S. and other nations, and saving lives today in the Mediterranean Sea refugee crisis.

· Trex Enterprises’ Automated Celestial Navigation (ASN) system provides a solution in GPS-denied environments through a fully automated star tracker for imaging individual stars both day and night to enhance navigation capability. Initially focused on Navy challenges, ASN attracted attention across the government: the result being a fellow agency ordering 15 systems, with applications in crime fighting and drug interdiction."

Dr. Matthew Portnoy, the SBIR and STTR Program coordinator at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), observed: “The NIH SBIR/STTR programs are ideally suited for creating research opportunities for U.S. small businesses to stimulate technological innovation. Part of a complex innovation ecosystem, these programs provide dedicated funding for U.S. small businesses to conduct early-stage research and development to explore the feasibility of innovative ideas that may eventually result in products or services that will lead to better health for everyone.”


Chairman Chabot has been a strong supporter of the SBIR and STTR programs. Last year, he spoke at an SBIR expo on Capitol Hill and stressed the importance of the programs to small businesses in his testimony before the House Armed Services Committee yesterday.

You can watch the full video of today’s hearing here.


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