SBIR Insider Newsletter
April 22, 2008 Update Edition
The following is a letter from Ann Eskesen, long time SBIR advocate and president of the Innovation Development Institute, Swampscott, MA - www.InKnowVation.comDate: Tue, 22 Apr 2008 09:45:34 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: CALL to ACTION: House to VOTE on seriously flawed SBIR reauthorization bill on Wed April 23, 2008 H.R. 5819 Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Contact your Congressional Reps. RIGHT NOW urging that they NOT enable passage of this seriously flawed bill
Don't know your Member? Use this useful C-Span Congressional database:
Dear SBIR community:
As many of you are aware, the SBIR enabling reauthorization will sunset on September 30, 2008. There is timely need to get to appropriate reauthorization. Current and would-be SBIR awardees need this; to address our seriously troubled economy demands strong support of the technology development that underpins the health of an industrialized economy. SBIR is a proven, key factor in that process - see discussion below. Hence, the fact that the House is about to vote would appear to be good news. However, the untimely haste and manner of approach with which certain Members and powerful lobbyists are now pushing HR 5819 speaks to an approach to reauthorization that longtime SBIR advocates find very disconcerting and almost entirely energetically oppose.
You might find interesting the following article which appeared April 11, 2008 in Fortune magazine
You need to step up to the plate and be heard. This is YOUR program. Fight for it!
With very high turnover in Congress - both among Members and particularly their staffs - many Members are largely unfamiliar with the specifics of SBIR- how it works; impressive individual and collective achievements; how important this program has been and continues to be. When did your elected officials last hear from you?
At first blush, HR 5819 provisions may appear innocuous, maybe even desirable - obviously awards need to be larger. There has not been an award size adjustment in a long time; and who can argue supporting high-growth firms is a good thing - right? SBIR has been a very successful program and everyone likes it. House leadership is in favor. Obviously we need to continue the good work. Let's vote yes. NO!
Very rapid - nigh clandestine - movement of the legislation through the system encourages those less familiar with the ramifications of a particular piece of legislation to vote without their having had time to find out more. This is very clever strategy - which could be disastrous in a community which tends to have limited political involvement. YOUR MEMBER NEEDS TO HEAR FROM YOU - NOW! - that this bill is not what it seems, Encourage them to support an open discussion into how SBIR needs to be supported towards remaining entirely relevant to the radically changed conditions in which you must now do business. The world is a very different place from what it was the last time in which SBIR was seriously examined .... in 1992. This is the discussion we need to be having - not how to give privileged access to any particular segment of the technology based small business community.
What better time to be having that discussion than now when in a few months we will soon have a new President facing the challenge of needing to tackle a range of serious economic problems and concerns and all committed to the notion of change?
A major underpinning of the strength and importance of the SBIR program has always been the diversity of the talent pool eligible to compete for the often critical financial support of new ideas and different approaches to address a range of technical problems. Offered by small firms of all types from the pure start-ups to quite mature entities and everything in between; by firms which have remained small in specialist fields of expertise to others which got their start with funds from this important pool of high-risk, technology-development dollars but which have matured to become well-known corporations addressing very large markets, SBIR funded projects - with an investment now approaching $25B over these twenty-five years - have been at all stages in the development cycle and across the range of technical endeavor.
Let it be made very clear -
Proponents for this very important business and economic development program - almost all of whom energetically oppose HR 5819 - have every right to be very proud of the extraordinary range of technical achievement and profound economic impact by what are now over 17,000 firms which have participated in almost 75,000 projects over these twenty-five years. With the SBIR Community arguably now the largest concentration of technical talent and with over 85,000 issued patent already in place and a rate of issuance now at 4-5 patents a day - a population base and technology development record which far exceeds any ther segment of the research community - by almost any measure, SBIR can be judged an extraordinary achievement. Ironically at a time when the integrity of the program is under attack, SBIR is an approach to supporting the all-important technology development which almost every other major economy now seeks to emulate.
The primary criteria of selection for SBIR support have always been the validity of the technical and scientific approach, the perceived ability of the applicant to do the job and the all-important focus on, by whatever appropriate means, getting the project to use-condition.
At a time when the economy is in serious trouble and the need has never been greater for the continued effective functioning of SBIR as a critical economic impact resource, it is profoundly disturbing that a very few extremely well-heeled players representing a very small sub-set of the diversity that is SBIR are pushing very hard radically to limit who will receive SBIR support from now on. That they have made it this far and have gained the support of powerful Members of Congress is even more discouraging.
You need to speak up.