seawasp (seawasp) wrote,

For anyone aware of the SBIR Program...

... you should be concerned about the current reauthorization fight for the Small Business Innovation Research program. This is the program from which the company I work for (IEM) gets a large amount of our research dollars, but if the current-frontrunner in the reauthorization bills (from the House of Representatives) gets passed, we'll have a much harder time of it.

In essence the new bill permits small businesses backed by VC firms to have a significant competitive advantage. This is almost directly CONTRARY to the original spirit of the program, as it means that it will REDUCE the number of awards given to small firms that HAVE NO OTHER INVESTMENT SOURCE. There are a number of reasons (the most obvious being maintaining control of your company) you would not WANT to have a VC company involved, but this change to the SBIR program could, effectively, kill off large numbers of small R&D firms who try to avoid VC involvement at the research level.

In addition, the bill permits much larger awards to be given at all levels (Phase I AND Phase II). At first blush, you might say "hey, isn't that good? More money!". Well, it WOULD be... if they increased the budget for SBIR by the same amount, or greater than, the increase in permitted awards. But they aren't. Which means that there will be FEWER overall awards, making competition that much harder and once more squeezing out other firms who might have won, but now can't make the cut because where there would have been three SBIR Phase I awards there are now 2, and where there might have been 2 Phase IIs there will now be 1. The winners will win bigger, but there will be far more losers.
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