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Without much fanfare, Congress recently passed legislation reauthorizing the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs and President Biden quickly signed it into law. The reauthorization of this critical program builds off of important pieces of recent economic legislation like the Inflation Reduction Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the American Rescue Plan. While many Americans, including small business owners and entrepreneurs, may not be aware of either of these U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) efforts, their reauthorization is a big deal for innovation.

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“The House and Senate did right by small business in passing this important legislation and avoiding a catastrophic program shut-down for SBIR and STTR. Despite some differences in what NSBA sought and this final package, small-business innovators can get on about their business creating and innovating to best serve the federal government,” said National Small Business Association (NSBA) President and CEO Todd McCracken.

The SBIR program was created 40 years ago through the Small Business Innovation Development Act to award federal research grants to small businesses. Through SBIR and STTR grants, businesses can apply for grants that meet the federal research needs of individual agencies.

Both the SBIR and STTR grants, the latter of which requires small businesses to partner with a nonprofit research institution, are designed to stimulate technological innovation, foster and encourage participation by women and socially or economically disadvantaged people, and increase private-sector commercialization of these innovations. Since its launch in 1982, the SBIR has led to the issuing of 70,000 issued patents and approximately $41 billion in venture capital investments.

Congress’ three-year reauthorization of these programs, known as “America’s Seed Fund”, will continue to build on these four decades of support. As SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman said, “If past performance of the SBIR program is any guide, new generations of entrepreneurs will be breaking barriers in science, medicine, and technology, while ensuring that the United States maintains its position as an innovation leader at the forefront of science and technology in a rapidly evolving global market.”

Now that the program has been reauthorized, entrepreneurs can begin exploring their options for applying for SBIR and STTR grants. The SBA has initiatives in place to train and support potential SBIR and STTR applicants across the country. Interested businesses can go to the SBIR’s resource center to learn more.

The success of our country has been built on innovation. Reauthorizing the SBIR and STTR programs will continue to spur progress and give businesses more opportunities to achieve their full potential.

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