SBIR Gateway

SBIR Insider Newsletter
June 01, 2007 Edition



Dear SBIR Gateway Insider,

Congress reconvenes this week after their Memorial "week" recess. Just prior to their recess, both the House and Senate passed H.R.2206, making emergency supplemental appropriations of $120 billion (mostly to the DoD but also for other purposes), which the President signed into law on May 25, 2007. You've heard the mainstream news concerning this bill, but we will investigate its potential effects on the SBIR program.

In this issue:

Passage of Emergency Supplemental Should Restore Full DoD SBIR Funding

With the passage of H.R.2206, the DoD and its agency components now have the funding requested (and more) to continue the war effort without borrowing additional funds from other DoD programs. This includes the DoD's ability to restore full funding to the SBIR program. The question is, when will the funding be restored, and the sub-plot is how much will be restored?

Over a month ago cut backs in DoD SBIR funding were enacted due to the budget squeeze from the lack of an emergency supplemental war funding bill. The standoff between the President and factions in Congress protracted the emergency funding process, and DoD funds ran critically low.

In response to this, DoD agency components (Army, Air Force, Navy etc) initiated a temporary "reprogramming" of funds from non-critical programs to the war fighting effort. This was considered (and I quote from an informed Pentagon source) "kind of a loan" from other programs such as SBIR. It was mentioned (verbally) that the slowdown in non-war programs would be ending and funding restored as soon as the emergency supplemental was passed.

The various DoD agency components handle their budgets in diverse manners, and each of their SBIR programs were affected differently. The Army's was so severely cut that they had to cancel travel for more than 50 of their personnel (that participate in SBIR) to attend the recent DoD SBIR Tri-Services meeting, the main training and networking conference for DoD SBIR professionals. Two key Army SBIR representatives did attend, but on someone else's nickel.

Funding issues within the DoD were grim at best. We received feedback from several of our small business readers concerning DoD SBIR project funding delays, and a few who said they were told their SBIR proposal was excellent, but they would receive no award due to lack of funding.

Now that Congress has turned the funding faucet back on, how long will it take the DoD agencies to reprogram the funds back to programs such as the SBIR? According to some informed sources, it may take longer than one might think. When asked "why," one source merely said "study your history."

In studying our SBIR history, as well as some agency reputations, we see evidence of agencies periodically trying to reduce or even eliminate their SBIR funding. Seasoned SBIR veterans such as Roland Tibbetts, Jere Glover, Ann Eskesen and others can recount many times when they had to battle agencies trying to "squirm" out of their SBIR responsibilities so they could apply those funds elsewhere.

The "study your history" comment is most likely telling us and Congress, to be aware of an agency's potential to protract the reprogramming process, and perhaps even divert some SBIR funding for other purposes. I know organizations such as the SBTC will be watching closely, as should you.

Interestingly enough, the emergency supplemental gives the DoD more money than the President requested. In addition to the DoD appropriations made for items such as operations, salaries, expenses, procurement of weapons and equipment, the supplemental includes separate amounts for Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E). These include: Army - $100,006,000; Air Force - $187,176,000; Navy $298,722,000; and other defense wide - $512,804,000. These RDT&E funds run through September 30, 2008.

SBIR Reauthorization: Plain Speak on why it may fail
It is surprising how many people think that SBIR reauthorization will be semi-automatic. That's simply not true. Once more, if we study our history, we see that the last SBIR reauthorization was a real battle, and it got through at the last minute, by the skin of its teeth. For a time, it actually failed, even though many congressionals supported it.

The last SBIR reauthorization attempt started in the 106th Congress in September of 1999 in the form of H.R. 2392. Although many people supported this bill, it had problems and ran out of "steam" and the SBIR program lapsed in October of 2000. By Mid-December of 2000 the bill H.R. 5667, to reauthorizes SBIR was ready to go but was to fall victim to the last minute competition for end of the calendar year appropriations. Major pushes by outside supporters such as the legendary Milt Stewart, and SBIR Pioneers such as Roland Tibbetts, Jere Glover, Ann Eskesen, Terry Bibbens Rich Carrol and others, gave encouragement to congressionals to press on!

In this reporter's opinion, nobody worked harder than Senator John Kerry (D-MA), ranking member of the Senate small business committee, and his "heroic" staff who succeeded in getting the fledgling H.R. 5667 bill rolled into H. R. 4577, The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2001. Hence, the SBIR program was reauthorized and considered safe until September 30, 2008.

Considering the challenges for the last reauthorization which was done during "good times", lets look at today's challenges and items competing for congressional attention and dollars.

  1. The War - It's front and center in congress; It's costly (both in lives and dollars); it's politically divisive (regardless of which side you're on); it's consuming great amounts of DoD resources that will require huge amounts off $$$ to replenish equipment (likely to greatly reduce the DoD R&D budget); and there is no short term elegant solution for either party.
  2. The Deficit - The largest of its kind in the history of our nation. It will again become newsworthy and eventually we must weigh the value of every appropriation (and the SBIR program is on that radar screen).
  3. Election Politics - The earliest election cycle ever witnessed, combined by the lack of an incumbent, and tremendously divisive issues such as we will see next week, i.e., the Immigration bill. Politicians may well concentrate on front burner election issues while items like SBIR get the back seat.
  4. Competing Entities - The House Science committee has not been the most enthusiastic supporter for SBIR or small businesses. It has been the domain for the University sector, many of whom believe that SBIR $$$ is money taken away from university grant programs. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has made several speeches touting the importance of her Innovation agenda, referring to Bart Gordon (D-TN) and his House Committee on Science to help lead the way. SBIR will get a better shake from the small business committees than the science folks.
  5. Lack of Small Business Respect - A wonderful series of TV commercials by CapitalOne showing major bank officials being disturbed by some little miniature people trying to show them a business plan. The Banker asks his assistant "What are they" to which the assistant responds "Eww, must be a small business owner… looking for a handout!" "Ha Ha, we only deal with Big Business," the banker responds. In SBIR, we need to do a better job showing the small high tech businesses as important high speed agile resources and not some "set aside" as a handout taking away from a more competent source.
  6. Education for new congressionals and their staffers - Several people who "work the halls of Congress" have told me how surprised they were at how many Representatives and their senior staff, know little or nothing about the SBIR program! Other who are somewhat SBIR aware, have a skewed vision of the program.
  7. The States - Most states have an office on innovation, or perhaps some off chute of their economic development programs concerning small high tech R&D companies. The states' governors belong to organizations such as the National Governor's Association (NGA). The NGA has a committee on innovation that supports programs they deem to be worthwhile in S&T. SBIR was noticeably absent from the lists of programs for the NGA to support. The states must do a better job in educating their state capitol leaders.

Part of the reauthorization process includes the updating and modernizing of a program. If the SBIR program is reauthorized, you can bet there will be several changes to the overall program. Some of these are being driven by large well funded special interest groups that want a share of the SBIR funding. The agencies want some changes also, and are looking at modifications to make the programs serve them better. Some of these issues may be included in the 2008 Defense Appropriations bill that will be worked on this week in Congress (if the Immigration bill doesn't overwhelm them).

In our next issue we will highlight some of the actions you can take, both individually and collectively, to help insure the reauthorization of the SBIR program.

2007 Tibbetts Awards Deadlines
What does the SBIR reauthorization effort and the Tibbetts Awards program have in common? The Tibbetts Awards not only recognize excellence in SBIR success, but it also increases the awareness of Congress and state organizations as to the importance and benefits of the SBIR program and its small business participants. In 2006, after the Tibbetts Award ceremony, Tibbetts Winner Dr. William C. Torch of Reno Nevada, proudly took his Tibbetts Award to his Senator, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, of Nevada. Reid was very pleased to meet with Dr. Torch and hear of his work that garnered a prestigious Tibbetts Award. The Senator was so taken by this honor that he delivered a statement on the floor of the Senate and created a page on his Senate web site. It can view it at http://reid.senate.gov/newsroom/record.cfm?id=263991

Nominations are now open for the 9th annual Tibbetts Awards program. The Tibbetts Award Program seeks nominees who, through their use of the SBIR Program, show the economic impact of their technological innovation, business achievement and effective collaborations, and a demonstrated state and regional impact and proven support.

Nominations for Tibbetts Awards will close July 15, 2007 and must be received by 8:00pm pacific time.

Companies can be nominated by any number of sources including SBIR awardees, SBIR program managers and other Federal agency personnel, Elected officials-Federal and state, State and regional support organizations, Professional service providers and those in the financial community generally involved in the SBIR program and with particular nominees, Associates of large firms, federal labs, academic institutions and others in collaborations on SBIR funded projects(s). A small business can even nominate themselves if they feel they can support their achievements in their submission.

There is another type of Tibbetts award for Outstanding Individual Achievement. Nomination procedure is the same as the company process.

Complete details are available from the Tibbetts web site at www.tibbettsawards.org

Change in Leadership at DoD Small Business Headquarters
In a rather swift move, the DoD has announced that Mr. Anthony Martoccia has been named the new director for the DoD/OSD Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP, formerly SADBU). Mr. Martoccia succeeds Ms. Linda Oliver who has been the "Acting Director" since the retirement of Frank Ramos, earlier this year.

Mr. Martoccia comes to the OSBP having been the Associate Deputy Administrator for the Office of Government Contracting and Business Development at the SBA. He has quite a diverse background having served SBA Administrators Steven Preston, and formerly Hector Barreto.

In addition to the SBA, Anthony Martoccia has had various procurement management positions with DoD, and DOT. Martoccia is an Army veteran and Army reserve officer. He holds a masters degree in Management from Central Michigan University, a B.A. in political science from the University of Nevada and an A.A.S. in Electrical Technology from State University of New York.

Martoccia's coming from the SBA is a mixed bag. At SBA you are dealing with an agency that has the lowest moral of all federal agencies, and was virtually starved to death from continuous budget cuts over the last 6 years. Although his previous boss, Steven Preston has received high marks on the bipartisan scale, some in congress are growing weary because they see too little being done, and recent questions of SBA management have been raised.

It is our hope that Mr. Martoccia is one of the bright lights from SBA, and if so, this could be a welcome change in the midst of challenging times for the DoD's Office of Small Business Programs. As director of OSBP, Martoccia has many responsibilities, not the least of which is guidance and oversight of DoD's SBIR/STTR program. The DoD SBIR Program Manager, Michael Caccuitto, works for Mr. Martoccia.

If Martoccia was a bright light for SBA, the SBA better get some high wattage bulbs fast! The SBA reauthorization is in progress and I know the Senate and House SB committees are going to want to see action. Stay tuned!

A Novel SBIR Program Experiment by NIST
As many of you know, the NIST SBIR program was severely impacted by the loss/reduction of funding for the NIST ATP program (considered extramural research by which NIST SBIR obtains its 2.5% funding).

NIST SBIR is trying a pilot program that is somewhat unusual. NIST's SBIR Program is asking small business owners to examine NIST patents as well as other NIST-developed technology for commercial viability, and to identify technological gaps that impede the patent's transition to the marketplace. NIST intends to incorporate technologies of special interest to industry in its 2008 SBIR research and development solicitation for proposals.

NIST's pilot effort to secure small business participation in formulating the SBIR solicitation is aimed at increasing private-sector commercialization of innovations derived from federal research and development.

The NIST SBIR Program is inviting small, American-owned companies to scan NIST patents and technologies and offer research suggestions in advance of the 2008 SBIR solicitation. In that competition, NIST will offer awardees a non-exclusive research license and the option to a non-exclusive commercialization license. The company or companies selected for the SBIR award, with access to NIST technology and personnel knowledgeable about the NIST patent, will be expected to add research to the NIST innovation and develop a commercial product based on the NIST patent. The deadline for private sector suggestions to the solicitation is Aug. 31, 2007; the formal solicitation is expected to be issued in November 2007, with proposals due in late January 2008.

To search for specific technologies go to http://patapsco.nist.gov/TS/220/sharedpatent/index.cfm

For a data dump go to: http://patapsco.nist.gov/TS/220/sharedpatent/patents_keyword.cfm

To browse through NIST'S Tech Beat http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/techbeat/archive.htm

If you identify NIST-held patents, or other NIST technologies that are not patent protected, and wish to explore opportunities to conduct research to further the technology to transition to the commercial market, please call Clara Asmail, NIST SBIR Program Manager, (301) 975-2339 or email her at: asmail@nist.gov

The First Non-NSF Sponsored National SBIR Conference
I'm pleased to report that the first National SBIR Conference without NSF funding not only survived but was an unqualified success. It was held in Research Triangle Park, NC April 30 - May 3, 2007.

The host organization was North Carolina's Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC), in an effort lead by SBTDC's Mary Beth Thomas and John Ujvari and considerable help and guidance from many others, including Terry Payne from Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

With 550 attendees, the presentations were well attended and received. SBTDC had to incorporate many sponsors in order to keep the registration costs down to the level of the NSF subsidized conferences.

The accommodations were quite good and the organizational efforts paid dividends, as most everything flowed very smoothly. The hosts worked their hearts out and few complaints were heard. I'm paraphrasing somewhat, but in conversations with the two SBTDC principles, Mary Beth Thomas and John Ujvari, they said they didn't know how much money the NSF previously paid their contractors (Sharon and Del DelaBarre of DelaBarre & Associates), but we know they really earned it! There is a great deal of work that goes into this that nobody sees.

There were some disappointments and places for improvement. Almost all the agencies were there in force except for the NIH. This conference drew many people from its own region, and that's a region about 65% dominated by NIH type of interests.

All in all the North Carolina folks are to be congratulated for a fine job. They were also very cooperative with the Texas delegation that was there to promote the next national conference and to learn what they could from the SBTDC folks.

The next National SBIR conference will be in Richardson (suburb of Dallas) Texas, Oct 29 - Nov 1, 2007.

The 2007 Navy Opportunity Forum
On May 7-9, 2007 in Arlington, VA, an incredible event happened. It was the Navy Opportunity Forum and it was such an important and successful event, I can't do it justice in a small SBIR Insider article. I will be putting together a newsletter mostly devoted to this event and hope to have it for you next week.

Over 1,600 people attended this SBIR driven conference, with hundreds of prime contractors looking at the offerings and talents of the small business community, with the goal of partnering on projects to get better technologies to the war fighter, and in a more expedient manner.

Excellent speakers and presentations were made and a series of private "side meetings" allowed industry movers to come together and provide guidance on how the programs could be improved and made more effective.

I think you'll be interested.

High Power Connecticut SBIR Conference
We usually don't do a calendar of events or regional conference announcements in the SBIR Insider (that's done by the excellent SBIR Alerting Service from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory), I would be remiss for not highlighting The Future of Manufacturing is Innovation 2 June 19-21, 2007 in Hartford, CT.

What makes this opportunity different from many others is that it has garnered so much support not only from the agencies, but the Prime Contractors as well. Especially If you're interested in DoD SBIR, you'll want to meet perspective partners from the prime community. In attendance will be Boeing, Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, GE Aviation, GE Edgelab, Gen. Dynamics Electric Boat, Bell Helicopter, TEXTRON, Ulbrich Stainless Steels, GKN Aerospace Structures, Hamilton Sundstrand, Tyco Healthcare, Colt Defense. All of these companies are interested in partnering opportunities!!

This conference is put on by the CT Center for Advanced Technology, Deb Santy and her group. Please visit http://www.ccat.us/sbir/conference/overview.php Time is running out!!

Beyond SBIR Phase II Conference & Exhibition 2007
This is the DoD Sponsored conference run by the NDIA for the DoD's "Beyond SBIR Phase II: Bringing Technological Edge to the Warfighter", August 21-23, 2007, Hyatt Regency Crystal City Hotel, Arlington, VA.

This conference will demonstrate the DoD's commitment to the Commercialization Pilot Program (CPP). Speakers include: Kenneth J. Krieg, Under Secretary of Defense for AT&L, Dr. James I. Finley, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for AT&L

The conference is by invitation only, loosely translating to you having to be a DoD phase II winner.

New SBIR Awardee Database Search Site
Marty Kaszubowski of CorMine Intelligent Data has been after me to become friendly with his company's newest technology in data searching and mining. In this case Cormine and their partners are applying their search mechanism to DoD SBIR Awards. They call it the SBIRScout and it is located at http://www.sbirscout.com/ It's an amazing piece of work!

Don't expect a simple Google type interface. This site is for people who know what they want and expect to use an expert filtering mechanism coupled with a research taxonomy to professionally focus their searches. It will take some time to make friends, but the investment can be worth it to find the needles in the haystack.

SBIRScout currently has two taxonomies, 1) Defense Technology Information Technology Center; 2) MoD Ministry of Defense (Great Britain)

This is just the beginning of what the technology will allow, and in its present form, it's free!

Next week we will be exploring what you can do in the SBIR reauthorization effort. We will also highlight the Navy Opportunities forum and give you a heads up on new programs and pending legislation that may provide new opportunities be of interest to your small high tech business.

Remember, as an "Insider" we depend on feedback from you. 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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