U.S. tech grant programs extended for another month

It’s not for as long a period as entrepreneurs in New Hampshire and around the country were hoping, but the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill reauthorizing the Small Business Innovation Research grant program through Oct. 31.

The House passed H.R. 3614 on Wednesday, extending for a month the SBIR, STTR, the Commercialization Pilot Program and many other federal programs that fund early-stage technology projects, among other ventures.

SBIR and related programs were scheduled to end Sept. 30, following a previous extension vote in July.

The SBIR program, along with sister program Small Business Technology Transfer Program, provides millions of dollars in grants — with awards reaching upwards of $750,000 to individual businesses meeting specific criteria — to technology start-up companies through a variety of federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, Department of Agriculture, Department of Health and Human Services and NASA.

“This extension will not only keep vital programs at the SBA running, but will also improve access to capital for small firms,” said Rep. Nydia Velázquez, D-N.Y., chair of the House Small Business Committee. “Small businesses will be central to our economic recovery, and this measure will ensure they can continue to access the tools they need.”

Early and mid-stage companies were hoping for a longer extension of at least several years.

Advocates of the program speculate that the short extension may signal that the House and the Senate are close to reaching an agreement on details of a more comprehensive legislation that will amend SBIR and related programs and provide for extensions at least through 2011.

Others believe serious work on the legislation is being delayed by much larger issues, such as health-care reform, the war in Afghanistan and the larger economy. — CINDY KIBBE/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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