Committee on Science and Technology
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Member Speeches :: July 8, 2009

T&I Subcommittee Chairman Wu’s Floor Speech on H.R. 2965, the Enhancing Small Business Research and Innovation Act

Thank you, I yield myself such time as I may consume. In today’s economy, small business is where innovation happens. The Science and Technology Committee, intends to promote the science and technology research that drives an innovation-based economy. That is why I rise in support of H.R. 2965, the Enhancing Small Business Research and Innovation Act.

At more than $2.3 billion per year, the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs comprise the largest source of federal support for technological innovation in the private sector. Given the current economic climate, we need robust SBIR and STTR programs to create the next generation of companies that will provide high-paying jobs and grow our economy.
However, these programs originated more than 20 years ago. Given the economic changes we have seen during the past two decades, we need to update these programs to reflect the current economic realities of our increasingly competitive innovation economy.
The Committees on Small Business and Science and Technology have held numerous hearings on SBIR and STTR over the past several years. Witnesses shared many recommendations about how SBIR and STTR can be strengthened.
Recently, both committees overwhelmingly supported H.R. 2965, with each committee voting favorably to reauthorize SBIR and STTR through 2011 with some much needed changes. The legislation has been endorsed by more than 100 organizations including the American Association of Universities, BIO, the National Venture Capital Association, Energy Sciences Coalition, and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
The bill increases the award sizes for Phase I and Phase II to reflect the actual costs of doing high-tech research. It also increases the flexibility of the SBIR program by allowing cross-agency awards and allowing applicants to apply directly for Phase II funding.
H.R. 2965 allows venture capital-backed small businesses to once again apply for awards and specifically defines their eligibility requirements. There has been much debate over the role of venture capital participation, but the National Academies recently released a report stating that venture capital-backed companies are important and do not crowd out other small businesses. The goal of SBIR is to encourage innovation; it is time we fix the administrative ruling of a single judge and support more innovative small businesses.
Today we continue our leadership by reauthorizing SBIR and STTR.I want to commend Chairwoman Velazquez in particular for her commitment to small business innovation. I urge my colleagues to support this bill. I reserve the balance of my time.

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