SBIR SET-ASIDE INCREASE BLOCKED Created by on 12/29/2010
Over the final days of the 111th Congress FASEB worked with the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU), and others in the research community to prevent Congress from passing a bill that would have reauthorized the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. These programs fund research conducted by small businesses by “setting aside” a portion of the budgets of 11 federal agencies that provide more than $100 million in extramural grants. Under the current program, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) must devote 2.5 percent of their budgets to SBIR research funding. On December 22nd the Senate unanimously passed a bill (S 4053/S 1233) that would have increased the “set-aside” to 3.5 percent – redirecting as much as $1 billion to a single research program at the expense of all other national scientific priorities and further eroding NIH’s capacity to fund competitive investigator initiated grants. Later that same day the leadership of the House Small Business and Science and Technology Committees blocked the House from taking action on the Senate bill.
Since early 2009, FASEB has led a coalition of nearly 100 groups from research institutions, higher education associations, and patient advocacy organizations to fight attempts to increase the SBIR “set-aside”, noting that it would subtract a larger portion of science agency budgets away from competitive peer-reviewed basic research at a time when future funding levels are uncertain. The current authority for the SBIR and STTR programs expires on January 31, 2011 and it is likely that the next Congress will try again to renew both programs. FASEB will continue to oppose any attempt to increase the “set-aside” and urge legislators to work with the Obama Administration to increase funding for all research, thereby increasing the total investment in SBIR.