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SPIE Applauds Congress for Support of SBIR Reauthorization

(December 15, 2011)

BELLINGHAM, WA -- (Marketwire) -- 12/15/11 -- SPIE leaders said they were pleased with the announcement earlier this week by House committee leaders that they had successfully negotiated a deal with the Senate to reauthorize funding for the SBIR/STTR programs for another six years. SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) and STTR (Small Business Technology Transfer Program) are designed to spur technology innovation within the small-business R&D community.

House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Missouri) and House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Ralph Hall (R-Texas) announced the deal Monday evening, saying that legislation to reauthorize the program will be included as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which sets the annual budget for the Department of Defense.

"SPIE is pleased that Congress has reached this compromise," said Robert Lieberman, Chair of the SPIE Engineering, Science, and Technology Policy (ESTeP) committee. "Many of our 180,000-person constituency work in small companies engaged in the high-technology business of photonics, and will greatly benefit from the stabilization and expansion of this program. The industry as a whole and the world economy will benefit as well."

Lieberman said that the six-year extension will provide needed stability for companies wanting to participate.


"SBIR-initiated projects create photonics jobs and products for applications ranging from defense and security to biomedical diagnostics," Lieberman said. "Participating companies partner with other industry and academia in developing innovations that improve quality of life everywhere."

"Because of this deal, businesses will have peace of mind for the next six years," said Senator Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana), chair of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee and a longtime advocate for SBIR programs. "The nation's innovators will have more access to federal research dollars, and the process by which they get the funding will be more efficient because we cut down the time for final decisions and disbursements."

Among key points in the agreement:

  • Reauthorization for six years

  • Greater participation among small businesses with significant private capital support, increasing venture capital participation for the National Institute of Health, Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, and other participating federal agencies

  • Increased award levels which have not been raised since 1982

  • Increased allocations to allow more small businesses to compete for R&D funds

  • Greater coordination between the SBA and the participating agencies to combat waste, fraud, and abuse within the SBIR/STTR programs

  • New performance-based standards to encourage companies to focus on commercialization.

The House and Senate conference committee is expected to finish its work on the NDAA by today (15 December), setting it up for a final vote of both houses of Congress this week before sending the bill to the White House for the President's signature.

SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, was founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. Serving more than 180,000 constituents from 168 countries, the Society annually organizes and sponsors approximately 25 major technical forums, exhibitions, and education programs in North America, Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific. SPIE provided over $2.3 million in support of education and outreach programs in 2010. Visit www.spie.org for more information.

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