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NOW: Rubio Chairs Hearing on Reauthorizing the Small Business Administration’s Innovation Programs
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, has convened a hearing titled “Reauthorization of the SBA’s Innovation Programs.”
The hearing is currently being live-streamed on the committee’s website here.
Chairman Rubio’s opening remarks as prepared can be found below.
Chairman Rubio: “I am pleased to hold today’s hearing titled, ‘Reauthorization of the SBA’s Innovation Programs,’ to delve into the programs that provide needed investment in America’s most innovative small businesses.
“Today, we continue our work to reauthorize the Small Business Act by focusing the discussion on the dynamic sector of those firms with high-growth potential participating in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs at SBA.
“To frame this discussion, I would like to first start by addressing the landscape we find ourselves in today when it comes to U.S. competitiveness.
“We are currently facing the most significant global competition that we have ever confronted. Other countries have taken note of our past investments, and the resulting successes, and are investing in research and development at far higher rates than we currently are.
“According to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, U.S. productivity growth over the last decade is the lowest since the government started recording this data in the 1940’s.
“Meanwhile, our global competitors are investing in research and development and increasing their technological sophistication, pulling ahead in key areas such as, life sciences, flexible electronics, and advanced manufacturing.
“As a nation, we have to decide where our priorities lie. If we want to remain competitive leaders in the world, we have to make investments and prioritize programs that achieve results.
“Today, I released a report that explores the nature of investment in the United States, and details what the decline of business investment in the private sector has wrought for our long-term productive capacity.
“The report finds that while investing in productive, long-life capital assets and industries may be more challenging than capturing quick profits from financial maneuvers, it is required for a successful economy that produces dignified work for our people, and secures our national strength and prosperity.
“Investing in productive industrial capacity is in our vital national interest.
“In other words, we need to understand the need to invest in ourselves, and what investing in ourselves requires.
“This includes investing in the technological innovation that will allow us to maintain our competitive edge.
“There is indeed a correlation between these national competitiveness concerns and the SBA programs we are discussing today.
“The SBIR and STTR programs are highly competitive programs that marry basic research and development with funding to meet a government need with the goal of moving basic research through developmental phases to commercialization.
“Authorized in 1982 and 1992 respectively, the basic tenets of the programs require any agency with $100 million in extramural research and development funding to use 3.2 percent of those funds for an SBIR program.
“If an agency has more than $1 billion budgeted for extramural research and development, they must use 0.45 percent of those funds for an STTR program.
“There are currently 11 agencies participating in the SBIR program and five agencies participating in the STTR program.
“Each program consists of three phases, moving from a Phase I award of up to $150,000 for basic research and development, to a Phase II award that provides up to $1 million for further development of the technology and moving the small business toward commercialization.
“Phase III of the programs does not include funding from the SBIR and STTR programs, but is intended to act as a facilitator for commercialization.
“Phase III funding is expected to be generated by the private sector, or through working with agencies through additional contracts, including sole source awards.
“These programs have proven to be impressive examples of what investment in research and development can achieve, and how participating small businesses can grow and scale.
“Some examples of SBIR recipients that have had immense success scaling are names that may sound familiar: Qualcomm, iRobot, Symantec, Amgen, 23andMe, and others.
“These well-known companies could very well be joined by one of the companies NASA just funded.
“The agency just announced it has selected 142 Phase II proposals from 28 states and awarded them $106 million to develop technologies ranging from managing pilotless aircraft to developing solar panels that can help humans live on the moon and Mars, to sensor technology for autonomous entry, descent, and precision landing on planetary surfaces.
“These awards are exciting because they forecast both advancements for NASA and the country, and opportunities for these businesses to become the next big SBIR success story and contribute to the overall national impact of the programs.
“The success of the SBIR and STTR programs has been studied by a number of different entities and several agencies have commissioned studies on the commercialization and economic impact of the programs.
“The Navy commissioned a study of their programs from fiscal year 2000 to 2013, which found that of a $2.3 billion investment, the programs provided an economic output of $44.3 billion.
“The economic impact also included the creation of nearly 200,000 jobs with an average wage of approximately $69,000, which is 42 percent higher than the average U.S. wage.
“The programs are not only successful at the Department of Defense.
“A 2018 National Cancer Institute study of its SBIR and STTR programs showed that NCI’s investment of $787 million from fiscal year 1998 to 2010 resulted in $9.1 billion in sales of products and services, $8.1 billion in labor income, $13.4 billion in value added wealth to the economy, and $26.1 billion in total economic output.
“The programs also created more than 107,000 jobs with an average wage of approximately $75,000 per year.
“The National Science Foundation, which focuses largely on basic research, also reports that they fund roughly 400 companies per year and since 2012, the agency has made nearly 3,000 awards to startups and small businesses.
“Since 2014, the NSF’s awardees have received $6.5 billion in private investment in a wide range of industries from advanced manufacturing to artificial intelligence, robotics, semiconductors, biomedical technologies and more.
“These proven programs are examples of the types of public investment our country should be making.
“In fact, it is the type of investment we should be making more of.
“My home state of Florida has had a very successful relationship with the programs with more than 4,000 total awards since 2010.
“I would like every state to be successful in using the program, and the barriers to success in states across the country should be part of this conversation.
“I look forward to having a robust discussion and identify ways we can increase the number of firms with opportunities for SBIR and STTR awards.
“It is important to make these programs more efficient, and better provide small businesses nationwide with the tools they need to commercialize and scale, including through additional private sector venture capital investments.”