Dear SBIR Gateway Insider,
Here's a quick update and some answers to a few of your questions. You've been very generous with your comments, and they're deeply appreciated. I want to concentrate on some questions that were critical of the SBIR Insider's reporting.
Although the comments critical of our reporting are minimal by comparison (I can't tell you how fortunate I feel), several bring up important questions/views that you should be aware of.
In this issue:
SBIR/STTR Program Status
As reported previously, and now signed by the President, 10 of the 11 SBIR agency programs have been extended through April 30, 2010. The exception is the DoD which is good through September 30, 2010. Everything is running "as is" with no major changes.
There is no progress to report concerning the House & Senate compromising to pass a full SBIR/STTR reauthorization bill.
Find A Partner For DOD'S Current STTR
Time is running out to find a partner for the DoD's FY-10A STTR solicitation. The DoD solicitation opens to accept proposals on February 23 and closes on March 24, 2010.
To help you locate a partner, we have set up a page that shows all 75 of the Navy and Army STTR topics, with complete topic descriptions available. You can browse the list and check off any or all the topics of interest to you, your company, organization or university.
To get started go to www.zyn.com/sbir/sttr_partnering.htm and click on the gray button that says: "Register Interest for 2010 Topics".
Starting Wednesday, February 10, you'll be able to see the results by clicking on a topic and viewing the names of companies, universities, non-profits and FFRDC's that registered their interest in partnering on that topic.
This will only work if you register your topic interests quickly. Topic registrations will be updated daily and hopefully grow to respectable numbers in order to give you some choice in partner selection.
As with all of our tools, this is an ad free pro bono service of the Zyn SBIR Gateway. We had over 300 topic registrations last year. We hope it will be useful to you.
If you want proof of how important partnering can be, make sure to read the Brewer Science Inc. article later on in this issue.
Questions / Comments From Our Readers
Q. Why are you so critical of the House of Representatives but not the Senate?
A. We gave glowing reports on the activity of the House Armed Services Committee. Our SBIR Insider criticism has chiefly been targeting only two House committees, the House Small Business Committee (HSBC) and the House Science & Technology Committee (HS&T), both with jurisdiction over the SBIR/STTR programs.
Although the HS&T allowed a very limited debate on majority VC ownership & control, jumbo awards, and 2 year length of reauthorization, the HSBC allowed none at all. The HSBC under the leadership of Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) would not allow one single small business to testify in opposition to those topics so heavily lobbied by BIO and NVCA. The mere muttering of a disparaging word on those topics would be cause for instant exile from HSBC consideration.
In contrast, the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship (SBE) under the current leadership of Mary Landrieu (D-LA), as well as her predecessors, John Kerry (D-MA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), allowed and encouraged both sides of those issues to be heard and openly debated from a variety of sources. From those discussions, compromises were formulated that both sides could live with, and keep the SBIR/STTR program a viable successful small business program.
The entire House is not run like Ms. Velazquez's HSBC. As evidence I present to you the recent (February 4, 2010) hearing on the contentious issue of the Comcast's purchase of NBC Universal. In this example we see the House Committee on Energy & Commerce's subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, allowing full and open discussions on the issues of this transaction.
The scope of the debate was presented from titans such as NBC's CEO Jeff Zucker, to small cable operators such as Colleen Abdoulah, CEO of WOW! Internet & Cable. As a small independent operator, Ms. Abdoulah had very different views and perspectives from Mr. Zucker on the potential ramifications of this sale.
The bottom line is, regardless of the ultimate decision on the Comcast/NBC issue, all sides were allowed to be well vetted, both to the committee(s) and the public. Isn't SBIR worthy of the same consideration, or should the likes of Ms. Velazquez's stifling tactics be tolerated?
One would think the Speaker's office would weigh in on Velazquez's unwillingness to negotiate, compromise or even acknowledge the SBE's offers. By her unwillingness to act, Ms. Pelosi has given Velazquez a vote of confidence, in spite of several senior and important House democrats urging a settlement in SBIR.
Q. You claim to be non-partisan but most of your negative comments are focused on Democrats. Are you trying to influence our selection of candidates?
A. I have no desire, interest or ability to influence your vote. I do want you to know how Senators and Representatives stand on small business issues, SBIR in particular. What you do with that information is your business.
Interestingly enough, SBIR reauthorization is not a partisan issue. On the House side we have been critical of Velazquez and Pelosi, but also of people such as Sam Graves (R-MO), and Aaron Schock (R-IL). We have offered superlatives for SBIR supporters including veterans such as Ike Skelton (D-MO) and Edward J. Markey, (D-MA), and junior members such as Niki Tsongas (D-MA). On the republican side we had good words for Donald Manzullo (R-IL), Phil Gingrey (R-GA), and Buck McKeon (R-CA). There are many more, but this is a sampling.
Q. What do you feel are the chances for SBIR reauthorization in the near future?
A. It all depends on the Velazquez and Pelosi issue. I believe the Senate has compromised as much as it could, and Velazquez doesn't seem to view it even as a starting point. You basically need a minor "Tea Party" to get their attention.
Especially in this election year, it will take an individual and collective effort. You need to contact your representative and senators. Tell them about the importance of the SBIR program to your business, your ability to grow your business, employ more people and stimulate your local and regional economy. Don't be timid, if no progress is made, call them again. They work for you!
For the collective effort there is only one organization devoted only to SBIR, and that's the Small Business Technology Council (SBTC). It's worth checking out at www.sbtc.org
There are also some other small business organizations devoted to the "greater" small business community. These include the parent to SBTC: National Small Business Association (NSBA) www.nsba.biz , National Federation Of Independent Business (NFIB) www.nfib.com and last but not least, perhaps the most aggressive, the American Small Business League (ASBL) www.asbl.com
Q. What do you have against VCs and the investment community?
A. Contrary to some thoughts, I am not anti VC or investment community. These resources are necessary to some important segments of the small business community, but not all. Unfortunately, some organizations that are championing these VC changes are actually pushing not only to allow majority ownership and control of a small business by non-small business concerns, but to allow (and encourage) jumbo SBIR awards virtually free of caps or ceilings. This could lead to $10M, $15M, $20M or more awards, thereby greatly reducing the number of awards available to actual small businesses.
Language such as the House bill contains also opens the door of these jumbo award amounts to earmarking of SBIR award dollars. The House rules committee refused to allow an amendment to prohibit earmarking of SBIR award dollars to be voted upon. In fact, the rules committee only allowed those amendments that Velazquez and Pelosi supported to come to a vote, all of which passed on the floor of the House.
To bring home a point previously made about Speaker Pelosi's role, here is what Mike Soraghan who covers Capitol Hill for the Hill newspaper had to say about the Rules Committee:
"The Rules Committee is a very partisan place and there's a lot of very sharp political barbs delivered but the outcome is usually considered pretty much pre-determined. They call it the 'Speaker's Committee' and the terms are pretty much laid down by the Speaker's office."
The Senate compromised to allow a certain percentage of the SBIR program to be available to small businesses majority owned and controlled by VCs. However, if you were BIO or NVCA, why would you want to compromise when the powers that be in the House want to give you everything you could ask for, and more.
By the way, all of this only for two years, then the House leadership can collect more money for the 2012 elections.
Tibbetts Awards For 2010
After a 2 year hiatus, the National Tibbetts Awards will be back.
Named for Roland Tibbetts, the person acknowledged as the father of the SBIR program, these prestigious, national awards are made annually to those small firms, projects, organizations and individuals judged to exemplify the very best in SBIR achievement.
The emphasis is on recognizing those accomplishments where, in the judgment of those closely involved and often most immediately affected, the stimulus of SBIR funding has made an important and definable difference.
The dates have not been set and the web site is being updated as we speak, so be sure to check it out (not before Wednesday) at www.tibbettsawards.org
SBIR Company, Brewer Science Inc. Wins $8.2M and $6.5M NIST TIP Awards
Brewer Science Inc. of Rolla, MO, a small, privately held SBIR award winning company has won 2 NIST Technology Innovation Program (TIP) awards. In addition to being a superb innovator, the power of good partnering is very much in evidence in Brewer Science's TIP success.
Brewer, partnering with SouthWest NanoTechnologies, Inc. (SWeNT), won a $6.5M TIP award in support of research and development programs that focus upon methodologies to attain the cost-effective production of high-purity, high-quality metallic and semiconducting carbon nanotube (CNT) inks. These advancements will enable production of a wide variety of high-performing electronic devices incorporating CNTs.
On another TIP project, Brewer partnered with Pixelligent Technologies and they won an $8.2M award to jointly develop technology and processes for scaling up the production of high-quality nanocomposites for multiple electronics applications
Details on the TIP success is available on Brewer Science's web site at: www.brewerscience.com/news/articles/
2010 National SBIR Conference Reminder
The 2010 National SBIR Conference is coming to the Connecticut Convention Center, Hartford, CT April 21-23, 2010. Two years ago Connecticut hosted the national SBIR conference and it was so successful they've been selected to do it again.
This conference is great for novices to expert level companies. You'll be able to schedule one-on-one appointments with all 11 federal agencies and potential industry partners. You'll also be able to feature your company/technology during the Poster Show.
Get all the details on the conference web site at: www.sbirnational.com
Although SBIR is the main reason for this publication, we want to remind you of some other high tech funding opportunities that come about from time to time, such as the TIP article above.
The ARPA-E program had a significant number of small business winners. ARPA-E is holding its first ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit, March 1-3, 2010 at the Gaylord Convention Center, Washington, DC. This promises to be quite a barn burner. Check out their conference web site at www.ct-si.org/events/EnergyInnovation/program/
I'm looking forward to the time we can put the politics to rest and get on with program news and opportunities for you!
Thanks again for your time.
40 Alderwood Dr.
Sequim, WA 98382
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