Shaheen pushes for SBIR reauthorization

The federal Small Business Innovation Research program is once again facing possible extinction — a fate New Hampshire U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen has been working hard to prevent.A stopgap measure last year temporarily saved SBIR, along with the Small Business Technology Transfer program, or STTR – both of which are overseen by the U.S. Small Business Administration, but that short-term reauthorization is due to expire Jan. 31.Shaheen has made several supportive statements during recent tours of companies around New Hampshire, including Airex Corp., a manufacturing and engineering firm in Somersworth, and Spire Semiconductor in Hudson.Both firms have received SBIR grants, which have helped each company to expand and add employees.”Spire Semiconductor is a great New Hampshire success story and a direct beneficiary of the Small Business Innovation Research program,” Shaheen said. “But despite bipartisan support for this program, Congress has failed to ensure it has the stability and support it needs to be effective. As a member of the Senate Small Business Committee, I will work with my colleagues to get the long-term reauthorization of Small Business Innovation Research Program passed in this Congress.”The key sticking point between the Senate and House versions of the SBIR reauthorization bill has been the percentage of venture ownership allowed for firms seeking grants, said Shaheen spokesperson Jonathan Lipman.”Each had different versions” and could not come to an agreement, he said.The change in control of the House from Democratic to Republican probably won’t do much to change the strategy to find a long-term funding solution, said Lipman.”The program has always had bipartisan support, so the changes will probably have little impact,” he said. “We do, however, see a better chance this time because there is a better understanding of the program’s importance.”Lipman said it is more likely that another short-term reauthorization will pass again instead of a full bill.It is unclear if even a stopgap authorization vote will come up before the Jan. 31 deadline, but such votes in the past have taken place a few days prior to the SBIR reauthorization expiration date.According to the Shaheen’s office, New Hampshire firms received 80 total awards totaling $26 million in grants through SBIR in the last two years.Eleven federal agencies – including the Department of Defense and National Science Foundation – participate in the SBIR, STTR and related programs, providing millions of dollars in grants each year to small businesses – with awards reaching upwards of $750,000 to individual businesses meeting specific criteria. – CINDY KIBBE/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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