Dear SBIR Insider,
Long time readers know I usually try and shoot the news to you straight and unvarnished. Late last summer I suffered a stroke and it tuned my world upside down. Trying to recover from this "well deserved" malady took 100% of me for many months, and now I'm at a point to be active again. During all this fun, I still had a company to run and now I'm able to get back to a "new normal" that will allow me to restart/update the SBIR Insider and the SBIR Gateway.
There are a lot of important issues to report on and it is too much for one Insider edition, so expect a few SBIR Insiders to follow in the coming weeks.
In this issue:
SBIR Reauthorization Efforts Progress
Even though the SBIR and STTR programs don't expire until the end of FY-2017, efforts for early reauthorization have been brewing on the Hill for some time. Advance planning activity is not unusual and as an "historical" case in point, work started on the 2008 SBIR reauthorization in 2006, a full 2 years prior to the expiration date.
Those early planning efforts were unsuccessful and "historical" turned into "hysterical" as reauthorization failed in 2008. SBIR/STTR were kept on "life support" for more than 3 years via a series of 14 short term continuing resolutions, until final passage of a 6 year reauthorization in December of 2011. The battles for reauthorization were immense.
It appears as if important lessons were learned and we are seeing significant bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. In the Senate, the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship (SBE) held an SBIR/STTR hearing where both the chair, David Vitter (R-LA) and ranking member Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) strongly supported SBIR/STTR reauthorization AND we saw bipartisan support, led by Shaheen, to make these programs "permanent" (meaning we wouldn't have to go through these reauthorization nightmares).
The House Small Business Committee (SBC) held a hearing and we saw major bipartisan support for reauthorization. This was not often the case in this committee but committee chair Steve Chabot (R-OH) is much more supportive and "in tune" with the benefits of the SBIR program than was his predecessor. We also noticed a positive change in ranking member Nydia Velázquez's (D-NY) demeanor toward SBIR. Although this committee does NOT support making the program permanent, they are suggesting a 5 year period. Yes that sounds lame, BUT remember that they were only willing to accept 2 years for the last reauthorization until they ran into "Hurricane Landrieu". Former Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) set a new standard in fighting for SBIR, and I believe we are still benefiting from the wake generated by her (and her staff's) efforts.
The House Small Business Committee (SBC) will do a markup of their new bill, H.R. 4783, "Commercializing on Small Business Innovation Act of 2016", on Wednesday March 23. We have a copy of that bill (as introduced) for you at zyn.com/sbir/insider/hr4783_of_2016_as_introduced.pdf I'll have a report on the markup for you next week. The Senate is out this week on their "State Work Period" but their staff continues working on their bill.
In spite of the positive news mentioned above, long ago we learned that a clean SBIR/STTR bill cannot pass on its own. This has been the case since the 1990s. However, since more than 50% of the SBIR/STTR program is from the DoD, it was a natural for the SBIR/STTR reauthorization language to be included in the DoD's National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). That bill is under the jurisdiction of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) and the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC).
This is how it has been done for many years, and is part of the plan for this year (the 2017 NDAA). So expect to see the final language of an SBIR reauthorization bill to be included the NDAA (both the House and Senate versions). That's still quite a ways off but must be completed by September 30, 2016 or much of the government may once again be put on a continuing resolution.
Your Role: It is no secret that our federal government is going through an extraordinary time prior to the upcoming elections (to put it mildly). It will be beneficial for you to let your Senators and Representative know about the importance of SBIR reauthorization. We will let you know what's in the bill(s) so you can let your voice be heard, including specific points of the proposed legislation that interest you.
SBIR Person of the Year 2015 - Bob Schmidt
Due to the hiatus of the SBIR Insider in late 2015, we were unable to cover this article when it happened.
The story of David and Goliath is well known, but the story of this year's SBIR Person of the Year, Robert (Bob) Schmidt, is set in a scenario of Davids and Goliaths. Schmidt is the leader of the Davids from the small high tech businesses community. The Goliaths led by mega giants such as Google, were engaged against the "Davids" in a congressional battle for what was termed "Patent Reform".
Whether by design or accident, these two bills (H.R. 9, The Innovation Act; and S. 1137, PATENT Act) would make it virtually improbable for a small business to defend its intellectual property. Even seasoned professionals on and about the Hill didn't think Schmidt and his small band of Davids stood any chance of derailing the Goliaths, led by Google who has the largest lobbying budget of any organization, more than $5.5 million in just the first 3 months of 2015!
The cloak of the legislation was allegedly wrapped around a goal to reduce/eliminate Patent Trolls (a goal most of us share), while the Goliaths tried to hide or invalidate claims of severe collateral damage that would be inflicted on small businesses and their investors trying to protect their IP.
Bob Schmidt is owner and CEO of 5 successful small SBIR businesses with diverse interests ranging from defense technologies to medical device technologies. Armed with an amazing background including a JD in Patent Law, MBA, MS in Urban Environmental Studies, and a BS in Mechanical Engineering, Schmidt ignored the odds of taking on the big guys, and fearlessly went to work. He is also Chair of the Small Business Technology Council (SBTC).
Not only did Schmidt help organize other small businesses to join the fight, but he saw these bills as severely threatening university intellectual property as well, and was able to bring academia into the IP version of "Camp David" for that rare equation of Academia+SBIR=strange but effective bedfellows.
The result of the work Schmidt and his band of Davids did was very much in evidence when the House dramatically pulled H.R. 9, "The Innovation Act" from being voted on in July. Both bills languished in the Congress for the rest of 2015 as our legislators received notice that these bills would be devastating to small business and universities. With 2016 being an election year, it is anticipated that these two bills will not be passed in the second session of the 114th Congress ending December 31, 2016.
For his exemplary work and outstanding efforts on behalf of SBIR community and other small businesses, Robert (Bob) Schmidt is named the SBIR Person of the Year for 2015.
See the full story and see Bob's Senate testimony at www.zyn.com/sbir/articles/15poy.htm
SBA Releases Two FAST Solicitations
This article is for our state SBIR service providers.
The SBA has just released two solicitations for their Federal and State Technology Partnership Programs (FAST). These grants are only for public or private entities, organizations, or individuals that intend to use this funding to increase SBIR/STTR proposals and awards within a state or multiple states. The entity is to provide outreach, financial support, and/or technical assistance to technology based small business concerns in underrepresented communities who participate in, or are interested in participating in, SBIR/STTR programs.
The proposing entity must be endorsed by the appropriate state governor or his/her authorized designee as the only approved applicant from that state.
FAST-2016-R-0010A – Is limited to the states of Arkansas, Delaware, California, Idaho, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Pennsylvania or Puerto Rico
(see www.grants.gov/view-opportunity.html?oppId=282343 )
FAST-2016-R-0010 – Is for the remaining states. (see www.grants.gov/view-opportunity.html?oppId=282341 )
Closing date is May 20, 2016 for both solicitations
National SBIR Spring Conference
This year's National SBIR Spring Conference will be held May 23-25, 2016 at the Gaylord Convention Center, in National Harbor, MD (DC Area). It will once again be collocated with the TechConnect World Innovation Conference & Expo, the National Innovation Summit and the Nanotech 2016 Conference.
We will have more information in our next Insider, but details can be found at http://nationalinnovationsummit.com/program/National_SBIR_Conference.html
Navy Forum for SBIR/STTR Transition (FST)
The former Navy Transition Assistance Program (TAP) has now become the new SBIR/STTR Transition Program (STP). The new event hosting the annual forum is The Forum for SBIR/STTR Transition (FST).
The new FST forum will be held May 16-18, 2016 at the Gaylord Convention Center, in National Harbor, MD (DC Area). The Navy's SBIR/STTR Forum has been a long-standing venue for connecting SBIR/STTR-funded technologies with warfighters, government acquisition and technical personnel, large primes, system integrators, and other potential partners/collaborators.
An added bonus of the FST is that it is collocated with the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition. The Sea-Air-Space Exposition brings the U.S. defense industrial base, private-sector U.S. companies and key military decision makers together for an annual innovative, educational, professional, and maritime based event.
Complete information is available on the FST web site at navyfst.com
SBTC 2nd Annual "Champion of Small Business Technology Commercialization" Awards
The Small Business Technology Council (SBTC) is seeking nominations to identify and honor the best Program Managers (PMs), Program Executive Officers (PEOs) and Contracting Officers (COs) in government for their 2nd annual "Champion of Small Business Technology Commercialization" Awards.
Last year they honored 17 government officials from 10 different defense and civilian agencies for their work in helping high-tech small businesses through the process of pursuing commercialization/follow-on awards such as SBIR Phase III, Phase IIB/Bridge, or Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) awards at their annual membership meeting in Washington, DC.
Nominations close April 15, 2016. See sbtc.org/?p=1951 for more information.
"Succeeding With SBIR" Webinar Series
Normally I don't list webinar events because they are too numerous, and listings for them are covered in other places. However, last week I received a call from a real SBIR veteran, David Speser of Foresight Science & Technology.
David's sharp mind and wit have not changed in the 20+ years I've known him, and he is now at the ripe young age of 92! David and his "kid," Dr. Phyl Speser have been an important part of the history of SBIR. They are hosting a series of free SBIR webinars. I missed the first one, but I think they will have some more. Feel free to check it out at http://foresightst.com/SBIR-webinar-series
Thank You, and Rest in Peace – Heidi Jacobus
Heidi Jacobus, Chairman and CEO of Cybernet Systems passed away last February after a valiant struggle with brain cancer. It would be far too voluminous to explain how important a supportive role Heidi had in the annuls of our SBIR community.
In these days of talking about the "one percenters," let me tell you about Heidi being a one percenter. She was a one percenter where it counts, as a friend, supporter, dynamo for the SBIR cause, mentor to our younger people coming into our SBIR arena, and much more.
Heidi called me one night in August to tell me of her cancer. She apologized saying that it sometimes made her a little goofy. But Heidi didn't know I had a stroke, and when I tried to speak to her (I sounded terrible) and she said "What happened to you?" "I can't think and you can't talk.." We had a great laugh together over a serious subject, but that light of hers and my thoughts of that evening will always stay with me.
My best thoughts for her husband Chuck, and their family; daughter Monica Anne Jacobus with husband Jonathan Gross; their son, Patrick Morgan Jacobus with his wife, Sianna Jacobus; her mother, Emma Neubauer; and brother, Phillip Neubauer and his family Annukka, Bettina, and Alex.
SBIR Gateway – To Close It or Update It? That is the Question
Many of you noticed that I hardly touched the SBIR Gateway zyn.com/sbir since my stroke. I received a ton of emails, what's going on.. are you okay, will you be updating..I thank you all for your concern.
Folks, in order to run my company and do all this pro bono SBIR work for our small biz community, I worked 14/16 hours per day, 6 days a week. I can't do that anymore. I have a responsibility to take care of my clients but I also feel a responsibility to my family as well as our SBIR community. However, my tired old body says "you have a responsibility to me too!". (I've learned the hard way, when it talks, I have to listen.)
As a result, I'm going to ask you for something. No, not money… I need your thoughts about what efforts I do that may no longer necessary (or helpful). For example, for more than 20 years I've done a search engine on current SBIR topics. That's a ton of work, and now that sbir.gov has improved their topic search, (and DoD has worked out their bugs), is the Zyn search still needed?
Let's also keep in mind that our 3rd party support folk have improved and provide important additional services (such as Darren Rush's SBIR Source at sbirsource.com/grantiq#/topics ).
I would like to continue the SBIR Insider (if you still find it of value). We had a little over 10,000 subscribers before I crashed. I also see providing the solicitation calendar (and notification service), as well as notes on solicitations (little curiosities such as some agencies not following the law or policy directives). Another service (that is used more by insiders and some Hill staff), is my legislation and policy directive tracker (shows you what language was changed, and how it was changed).
So until I hear back from many of you, I will be taking the current topic search down, but I'll leave up the history topics, we'll keep the news and schedules going, as well as the Insider.
Feel free to just respond to this email with your comments, also about your SBIR experiences (both good and bad) with the agencies (your identity will remain confidential).
I'll look forward to hearing from you.
The loss of Heidi, has me thinking about the loss of others in our SBIR family, such as Roland Tibbetts, Fred Patterson, Les Bowen, Arthur Obermayer, and a few others. Then we have some that were smart enough to retire and enjoy their lives like Chris Busch and Bob Weiss.
We have to start mentoring the next generation of SBIR advocates. People (who I'm honored to call friends) like Jere Glover, Ann Eskesen, Dave Metzger, Bob Schmidt and several others have been in this race for a long time. We're looking for the next generations….
Thanks for reading, and don't be shy about sharing your comments, good or bad. That's how I learn.
40 Alderwood Dr.
Sequim, WA 98382
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