Dear SBIR Gateway Insider,
In just a few short weeks (March 20, 2009) the SBIR program and the Continuing Resolution (CR) that is keeping SBIR afloat will expire. The news in this issue is not good, and if you want your SBIR program to continue, you'll have to roll up your sleeves and help in the heavy lifting.
If you chose to read on, you will learn that SBIR has powerful enemies in and out of Congress that are working on the dissolution of the program, and SBIR may not survive. We've heard time and again that our politicos love SBIR and will protect it. Those hollow words don't take into account how congress works, and that has made many in our SBIR community lackadaisical.
A few strong powers within our congress can trump the majority IF your Senators and Representatives are not willing to spend some of their political capital to fight for you and the SBIR program. You don't need their "chin music", you need action, and the country, especially at this time in our history, needs SBIR.
Last week, in a midnight "slight of hand" by special interests, SBIR & STTR were expressly stricken from the NIH portion of the stimulus bill, effectively removing almost $250 million in SBIR/STTR award funding. We'll disclose the details in the next article.
This is a shot across your bow showing that the enemy of SBIR has attacked, won this battle and will be back to finish the job. Although small in number, they are rich in resources.
Do you want to save the SBIR program from lapsing? Then I strongly urge you to do all of these items:
Develop a brief message urging an SBIR extension for a year, stating its importance to you, your business and community. Stress that a collapse of SBIR could be catastrophic not just for you, but the entire high tech small business community. Stress that SBIR community is a pillar of America's innovation and economic stimulus . Do it in your own words because boilerplate language is far less effective.
- Call your Senators, both their local and DC offices. http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
- Call your Representative, both their local and DC offices. http://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW.shtml
- Go to their web sites and use the email or webmail links to send them your message.
- Contact the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship email@example.com - 202-224-5175
- Contact the House Small Business Committee (202) 225-4038 www.house.gov/smbiz/
- Contact the House Committee on Science (202) 225-6375 - http://science.house.gov/contact/contact_generalform.shtml
- Go to the President's web site at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/
- Write to your local newspapers, TV and radio stations.
- Work with other small business groups to form a united effort.
If you would email me about your calls, dates and contacts, I will create a database of the activity, preserve your anonymity but share the remaining data with SBTC (the only national organization dedicated solely to SBIR), to ascertain what areas of the House/Senate need additional work.
In this issue:
Stimulus Funding for NIH Specifically Exempted From SBIR/STTR
As light is slowly shed on The American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 (aka P.L. 111-5 and/or The Stimulus Bill) we find a "behind the scenes" midnight action, damaging to the SBIR program, with ramifications that could severely impact present and future SBIR/STTR funding.
Very late in the extraordinarily short cycle of the creation of the largest stimulus bill in the history of the United States, the NIH received an exemption from SBIR/STTR funding obligations that were connected to the Stimulus Act. This does not affect the current NIH SBIR obligations due to expire March 20, or the STTR obligations due to expire September 30, 2009.
At the very least, this latest action eliminates up to $250 million of stimulus dollars that would have been made available to small businesses working in SBIR and STTR. At worst, it sends a signal that agencies and large special interests with ties to important legislators can, under the right circumstances, circumvent the SBIR statutes and eliminate SBIR and STTR funding.
The Problem: A deliberately "cloaked" last minute after dark language change from the Senate, to the NIH portion of the stimulus bill was made. It simply reads: "That the funds provided in this Act to the NIH shall not be subject to the provisions of 15 U.S.C. 638(f)(1) and 15 U.S.C. 638(n)(1)" In plain English, those are the statues that enable the SBIR 2.5% and STTR .3% funding set asides. This action was done at such a time and in such a manner as to escape possible detection from pro SBIR staff and the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship!
The Culprits? This is a classic "who done it" such as in the board game "Clue" Perhaps it was Col. Mustard in the library with the rope! Clues are not indictments but merely suggest person(s) of interest.
In that light, let's look at some "clues":
Clue #1: We hear that Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) had engineered the insertion of the exemption language but we don't know why.
Clue #2: Specter was one of only three Republicans in the Senate to vote for the stimulus package. Without his vote, the legislation would have been stalled and perhaps open to some badly needed scrutiny. With his vote so badly needed, a little change such as he slipped through was easy to pull off in the dead of night.
Clue #3: It has been rumored that BIO and their special interests believe there's more bacon to be had by eliminating SBIR companies until/if BIO and NVCA can get a redefinition of small business size standards to allow majority ownership and control by non-small business entities.
Clue #4 BIO's chairman, James C. Greenwood, former U.S. Congressman (R-PA) is a close friend/associate of Senator Specter, and has been involved with recent reelection fundraising efforts for the Senator.
Clue #5: The NIH has a history, dating back to the very beginning of SBIR, trying to exempt itself from the SBIR program (we're talking agency level folk, not the NIH SBIR personnel). NIH and has been supportive of BIO's and NVCA's stance of changing "small business" size standards to allow majority ownership and control by venture firms and syndicates.
The Solution: It appears that this horse is out of the barn, and it will be a long shot in repairing the damage. Several groups and some individuals are working the issue, as is the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship. Whatever the case, this issue is secondary to obtaining a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the SBIR program alive. Just about 3 weeks remaining.
Kudos to Ann Eskesen of the Innovation Development Institute in Swampscott, MA. (www.inknowvation.com) Ms. Eskesen, the creator and keeper of the keys to America's most compete SBIR/STTR award data, swung into action immediately upon discovering this outrage, and spent countless time and energy contacting and helping others to contact SBIR firms in Senator Specter's Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Also to Fred Patterson, the SBIR Coach, (sbircoach.blogspot.com) for spending much of his weekend trying to notify companies via his newsletter and blog.
Changing Of The Guard At The Air Force SBIR
After many years of service to the Air Force, and the last several years as AF SBIR Program Manager, well known and popular Steve Guilfoos has announced his retirement, effective March 3, 2009.
His successor Augustine (Gus) Vu, has spent many years with the Air Force and has been serving as the Air Force Director of Technology Transfer. Vu actually assumed the reins of the AF SBIR on February 2, while Guilfoos stayed on as an advisor.
Gus, as he prefers to be called, has a style quite different from Steve's and from my knowledge of Gus in the T2 field, he will fit into SBIR quite well.
To Gus, welcome to SBIR, to Steve, we will miss you.
New Solicitations From DOT And DHS
The Department of Transportation has recently opened their FY09.1 SBIR solicitation, which closes April 15, 2009. Good news, DOT has made submission simple! Your PDF files may now be submitted via their web site. Complete details at www.volpe.dot.gov/sbir/sol09
The Department of Homeland Security's Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) has just released their FY09.1 solicitation with a deadline for questions March 7, 2009 and a closing date of April 6, 2009 at 2:00pm est. This is not to be confused with the earlier DHS SBIR that was released by the DHS Science & Technology Directorate. DNDO doesn't have the experience of the S&T division so things are a little crude. The solicitation is available on FedBizOpps at:
DNDO claims to have an SBIR web site at https://www.dndosbir.dhs.gov but as of the time of this writing, there's no site!
Update On Our DoD STTR Stimulus Experiment
The DoD STTR opens on Tuesday (February 24) and our "find a partner" experiment has exceed expectations. There are now more than 350 topic registrants, some topics with as many as 10, and only a few with none.
We've been listening to your requests, and since the database has new entrants daily, we changes the sort order from alpha to date (first in / first out). So check the topics frequently and look and the bottom of the listings for the newest registrants. We will be closing it soon so take a look if you're interested in finding a DoD STTR partner. The site is at www.zyn.com/sbir/sttr_partnering.htm
Registration Opens For 2009 NAVY Opportunity Forum
Registration has now opened for one of the biggest SBIR events of the year, the Navy Opportunity Forum. This year's event is being held June 8-10, 2009 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Crystal City, VA.
Although this event is "by invitation only" it is really "by qualification". Registration is open to: Navy, DoD, NASA and other federal employees; large defense and NASA contractors; first and second tier suppliers; defense support contractors; congressional staff; equity investors; and Fortune 500 companies.
If you don't qualify, you can still check out the Navy Virtual Acquisition Showcase at www.virtualacquisitionshowcase.com/browse09.php
Complete details and registration are located at www.navyopportunityforum.com
DoD's New Idea Portal
Often times companies will call me with an idea for the DoD that doesn't have an SBIR topic. The DoD's New Idea Portal, not connected with SBIR, selects themes and wants to hear from companies with ideas to address those themes. It could be a good alternative for you.
The current theme is "Battlefield Forensics". The DoD deﬁnes forensics simply: "The application of multi-disciplinary scientiﬁc processes to establish facts." DoD is applying criminal forensic capabilities and technologies typically used in law enforcement to meet needs in national security and counter-terrorism.
Check it out at www.defensesolutions.gov Thanks to Wendy Hill, our DTIC guru for the tip.
Serious New PDF Exploit Discovered
Serious New PDF Exploit Discovered
In the past few months there have been a series of Adobe PDF Reader problems and exploits, but nothing as menacing as this new one. Going to a web site and opening a PDF file in your browser can be hazardous to your computer's health. Adobe won't have a patch for at least two weeks. If you're concerned (and if I was a government agency, I would be) there is an alternative sleeker faster an more elegant (according to my younger computer geek sources) PDF reader from Foxit. Check it out at www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/reader_2/reader-interstitial.html
I've been pretty ill this last week and I apologize if this SBIR Insider doesn't make much sense. I temporarily got a soft spot for big pharma because of this "wonder drug" I'm taking. Fortunately I could afford the $129 for 7 pills, but wondered about those who couldn't.
Nevertheless if a magic man offered me my health back for $129, I'm there! However, my jubilation was somewhat tempered when a Canadian friend of mine told me he gets the same name brand drug, from the states for about $35 Canadian…. Ehh……..
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