SBIR Gateway

SBIR Insider Newsletter
April 16, 2007 Edition



Dear SBIR Gateway Insider,

I wanted to get this issue to you last week but finished it off this morning and then received the news of the tragic events at Virginia Tech. Although today is not business as usual, I did want to get the information to you, in spite of the fact that it doesn't seem particularly important at the moment. Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims and their families.

In this issue:

When Will the DoD Money Run Out? How This Could Impact Your SBIR Award

In our last issue we cautioned that the DoD Supplemental Appropriations battle may have a side effect of temporarily stopping or slowing the DoD's SBIR program. The Senate has been back from Spring recess since April 9th, but the House didn't reconvene until today, (April 16) and the DoD's budget clock is still running. Although both sides want to fund the troops, the President will veto any bill that contains troop draw down language, but the democrats want to use this bill as a lever to change the course of the war in Iraq.

Without getting heavily involved in the political issues, suffice it to say that both sides are digging in and preparing for a fight, while the DoD lack of funding clock continues to run. We know that the funding will come, in one form or another, but when? This is crucial not only to the war effort, but for the majority of non-war effort DoD programs that may suffer programmatic cuts or stoppages as funds are diverted to the war effort.

I have heard from some of our readers who believe the DoD cannot divert funds and shut down the SBIR program. That is a false notion. Last week Secretary of Defense Gates stated that due to lack of funding the Army will soon start reducing quality of life initiatives, and by mid-May the situation will be extremely critical and the Army will be forced to curtail training of replacement troops as well as many other draconian cuts. You can bet that at a certain point in time the DoD will reprogram its funds from anywhere it can until the emergency supplemental is passed.

The House and the Senate have to conference in order to consolidate their two versions of this bill. The bill will go to the President, who will veto it and send it back to congress who will not be able to override the veto. However, the President has invited leaders of congress to come to the White House on Wednesday, April 18, to try and resolve some of the issues.

There's talk on the hill that as a compromise, congress may seek to make the DoD supplemental appropriations in small chunks, every 90 days or so, and request incremental progress reports. DoD sources speculate this will create a major additional burden, and ancillary programs such as SBIR may still need to be curtailed until full funding is assured.

I'm not suggesting that this will happen, but the bottom line is that you should try as best you can to prepare for a potential DoD SBIR work stoppage. All SBIR solicitations include the disclaimer "awards are subject to the availability of funds." We are already hearing of temporary cuts in the CPP support funding.

Also please note that this funding problem encompasses much more than the SBIR program, and discussions are being held at levels far above the SBIR community. Do not call your SBIR program manager about this because they have no information. All the powers that be are closely monitoring the situation and will make announcements if changes to their programs are made. We will also keep our "ear to the rail" for you.

NIST ATP Releases $60m Solicitation - Announces Proposers' Conferences Schedule
Marc Stanley, Director of the NIST Advanced Technology Program (ATP), must feel a little "MacAurthur-ish" because in spite of the odds, his ATP program has returned!

On April 4, 2007 NIST's Advanced Technology Program (ATP) opened a new competition for cost-sharing awards to support high-risk industrial research and development projects. The program offers funding for specific research projects by individual companies or industry-led joint ventures in order to accelerate the development of challenging, high-risk technologies. The closing date for proposals is Monday, May 21, 2007.

As examples, the ATP cites four multidisciplinary technological areas that would affect a multitude of industry sectors and applications, and represent technology frontiers with many technical challenges. These areas have been identified by multiple industrial roadmaps and policy documents and reflect well-known technology priorities for the nation:

  • Technologies for Advanced and Complex Systems
  • Challenges in Advanced Materials and Devices
  • 21st Century Manufacturing, and
  • Nanotechnology

The competition, however, is open to technology research projects from any area of technology. Proposals are evaluated on the basis of detailed selection criteria reflecting scientific and technological merit and potential for broad-based economic benefits.

To provide potential applicants with general information regarding the program, tips on preparing proposals, and the opportunity for questions and answers, the ATP is holding five public Proposers' Conferences on April 13, 2007, in Gaithersburg, Md.; on April 16, 2007, in Detroit, Mich.; on April 18, 2007, in Boston, Mass., and Los Angeles, Calif.; and on April 20, 2007, in Austin, Texas. There is no registration fee, and applicants are not required to attend one of these conferences.

In the event that you cannot attend one of the proposers conferences, you can view a recorded web cast of NIST's April 13 conference at www.atp.nist.gov/ They did quite a nice job of making the recording easily available.

More than 66% of the ATP awards go to small businesses, an additional 12% to medium size businesses, 17% to large entities and 5% to other organizations. Also of interest is the fact that of ATP's small business awards, 30% go to businesses with fewer than 10 employees, 19% have 10-19 employees, and 22% have 20-49 employees.

The ATP has it share of "detractors" who fought against its funding and is hoping it will "bomb out". The ATP's staying power is still in question. I highly recommend that you attend one of their proposers conferences if you can.

The ATP also provides a benefit to SBIR. The NIST SBIR program depends heavily on the ATP program's funding that is considered "extramural research" and provides a source of funding for NIST's SBIR. We'll provide a NIST SBIR update when it becomes available.

To find out more about the NIST ATP program visit www.atp.nist.gov

National SBIR Spring Conference at Research Triangle Park, NC. April 30 - May 3, 2007
Time is running out to register for the 2007 National Spring Conference to be held April 30 - May 3, 2007 at Research Triangle Park, NC. The folks at the North Carolina SBTDC tells us that space is becoming limited so please get your registration in now if you plan to attend this important national SBIR conference. Registration is available on the conference web site at www.sbtdc.org/events/sbir/2007/

Proposed Increase in SBIR Discretionary Technical Assistance
In our February SBIR Insider we discussed a proposed set aside of 3% of SBIR funding for agency administrative purposes. Also incorporated in the same bill, S.567, (National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008) is SEC. 824, a proposed change to the amount of funding allowed for a small business to receive additional technical assistance (usually commercialization assistance).

If passed, the amount for a phase I awardee would be increased from $4,000 to $5,000, and phase II would escalate from $4,000 to $8,000. An interesting language change for phase II reflects that the agency has discretion to provide the assistance directly, or to allow the awardee to purchase assistance from the awardees SBIR funds.

The bill is sponsored by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) and cosponsored by Senator John McCain (R-AZ). There bill has been referred to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

SBIR -STEM Workforce Development Grant Pilot Program
S.833, Competitiveness through Education, Technology, and Enterprise Act of 2007, aka COMPETE Act of 2007, contains a provision (SEC. 203) to establish a new pilot program in the SBIR community. The acronym STEM translates to a college student in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math.

The SBIR -STEM Workforce Development Grant Pilot Program is to encourage the business community to provide workforce development opportunities to STEM college students, by providing an SBIR bonus grant to eligible entities. A bonus grant to an eligible entity under the pilot program shall be in an amount equal to 10 percent of either a Phase I or Phase II grant, as applicable, with a total award maximum of not more than $10,000 per year.

This bill sponsored by Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) and cosponsored by Senator Sen Mark Pryor (D-AR) has been referred to the Committee on Finance.

Schaper Joins DHS SBIR Program
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced that Vinny Schaper, former Navy SBIR Program Manager, has been brought on board in the position of DHS SBIR Program Director.

Ever since Rear Admiral Jay Cohen, former Chief of ONR, became the DHS Under Secretary, S&T Directorate, the talk in the SBIR community was if he would bring Schaper to the DHS SBIR program.

Schaper was the Navy's SBIR program manager from 1988 to his retirement in2004 and for several of those years Cohen was Chief of ONR, and Schaper's ultimate boss. In presenting an ONR award to Schaper Cohen stated "When I would receive a call from Vinny, I always knew it meant Damn the Torpedoes!"

Vincent (Vinny) Schaper has been an important leader in the SBIR community for many years, and a good friend of small businesses. In his position as DHS SBIR Program Director, he will work closely with Ms. Lisa Sobolewski, DHS S&T SBIR Program Manager, and Ms. Anu Bowman, DHS DNDO SBIR Program Manager.

Vinny can be reached at Vincent.Schaper@associates.dhs.gov or by phone at 202-254-6119.

Army SBIR's LTC Kenneth Strayer to Move On
For the last two years, Army SBIR Deputy Program Manager, LTC Kenneth Strayer has made a big imprint on the Army's SBIR program, assisting Susan Nichols, SBIR Program Manager.

During this time Strayer has become an important player in the growth of the Army's SBIR program and the development of their CPP program. Many of us have watched him grow, not only in the SBIR field, but also in the ranks of the Army, recently being promoted from Major to Lt. Colonel.

As part of the Army's rotational schedule, Strayer will be leaving the SBIR program for another assignment. There has been no announcement of who will replace him as the Army SBIR Deputy Program Manager. Susan Nichols will remain as SBIR Program Manager.

Strayer plans on being at the National SBIR Conference April 30 - May 3, 2007 at Research Triangle Park, NC.

Former DHS Program Manager, Tim Sharp Joins the Private Sector
Tim Sharp is best known to the SBIR community as the first SBIR Program Manager for DHS' HSARPA. He helped get the program off the ground and running amidst a very turbulent time in the fledgling agency. Sharp is also well known in the S&T community for his many years of leadership in Air Force Technology Transfer programs.

In June of 2006, Tim Sharp, DHS SBIR program manager announced his retirement concluding more than 33 years of government service. This happened on a relatively short leash leaving many to wonder where he went.

Tim was indeed too young to clip coupons and let his talents and contacts go to waste. He is now working for Strategic Analysis Inc. of Arlington VA. You can reach him via email at tsharp@sainc.com

Thank you for your interest and keep your comments and questions coming.

Sincerely,

Rick

Rick Shindell
SBIR Gateway
Zyn Systems
40 Alderwood Dr.
Sequim, WA 98382
360-681-4123
rick@zyn.com
www.zyn.com/sbir

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