It’s been a while since I mentioned our Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Several events have brought them to the forefront at NIH, so I thought now would be a good time to talk about them. For those of you who have not heard of our Small Business Programs, all federal agencies with an extramural research budget of more than $100M are congressionally mandated to set aside 2.5% to fund research and development on technology targeted for commercialization performed by eligible small businesses. Another 0.3% is set aside for technology transfer, which requires a partnership between a small business and a research institution. Among all federal agencies, NIH’s small business program is the second largest. We have a whole section on our RePORT website where you can find interesting data about the program.
Let me tell you about the myriad of activities that are impacting our SBIR and STTR programs in various ways. First, last week, President Obama released a memo in which he asked the heads of federal agencies to accelerate technology transfer and commercialization of federal research. As you might imagine, this is particularly applicable to our small business programs; in fact, SBIR and STTR programs are specifically called out in the memo, with the President asking us to look at best practices for managing these programs.
This seems to be a topic on everyone’s mind as a few weeks ago Dr. Collins, the NIH Director, asked NIH’s Scientific Management Review Board to recommend strategies for optimizing the NIH Small Business Programs. He mentioned finding ways to foster innovation, attract quality proposals, and ensure success with our grantees. The board will be working over the course of the next year to come up with recommendations that likely will touch on the same areas the President mentioned.
Finally, congressional reauthorization of the programs is currently underway—the programs have been under a series of extensions since late 2008. Reauthorization represents an opportunity to make important changes to the program. There are several possible provisions in the reauthorization being considered by both sides of Congress, many of which affect the NIH programs. We will continue to update you on the status of the reauthorization on our website.
NIH is committed to the continued success of all our programs, and we look forward to helping maximize the investments we are making in our nation’s small businesses as a way to support innovation and economic development.