SBIR Insider Newsletter
October 30, 2011
Dear SBIR Insider,
Lots of important SBIR news this week including something from the President, along with signs that the House is ramping up to get SBIR reauthorization passed soon. House Small Business Committee chair, Sam Graves is a popular guy, getting mail from House Armed Services Committee chair Buck McKeon voicing concern about a House SBIR provision, and a letter from 11 Senators concerned about the House SBIR bill. We also have a new but somewhat mysterious USPTO SBIR Pilot Program, so let's go to press!
In this issue:
11 Senators Write Letter of Concern about Several H.R. 1425 Provisions
On October 20, 2011, eleven Senators signed on to a letter written by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Scott Brown (R-MA) to the chairs and ranking members of both House and Senate Small Business Committees, voicing concern over the contentious issues addressed in the House SBIR Reauthorization bill H.R. 1425.
The main items are those we reported on in August (see www.zyn.com/sbir/insider/sb-insider08-22-11.htm#two for details). The Senators ask that the House omit sections 101, 105, 106, and 505 from any compromise In essence they are requesting keeping the Senate's S.493 compromises that were agreed to by BIO, NVCA and all the major SBIR groups. This includes keeping the customary 8 years for reauthorization, no direct to phase II grants, utilize the Senate's S.493 VC compromise numbers, and eliminate section 505 that limits the number of award dollars that participants can competitively win.
The eleven Senators signing the letter are: Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Scott Brown (R-MA), Ben L. Cardin (D-MD), Joseph I. Lieberman (I-CT), John Kerry (D-MA), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Michael Enzi (R-WY), John Thune (R-SD), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
Their letter can be viewed on our SBIR Gateway at www.zyn.com/sbir/insider/Senate_SBIR-10-20-11Letter.pdf
House Armed Services Committee Chair Shows Concern over H.R. 1425 Provision
The word is that things are heating up in parts of the House to get SBIR reauthorized soon. Some in the House realize that several sections of the current House bill H.R. 1425 will not pass muster in the Senate, as reported to you in our August 22 issue (see www.zyn.com/sbir/insider/sb-insider08-22-11.htm#two for details).
Now we see that House Armed Services committee chair, Buck McKeon (R-CA) is also concerned by a portion of the bill that will have a negative effect on the program, especially from the DoD perspective. In a letter to Sam Graves, dated October 28, 2011 Mr. McKeon stated:
"As you and your Senate counterparts work to negotiate a final bill, I feel compelled to relay a concern with H.R. 1425 that colleagues in the House have recently brought to my attention. Specifically, members are concerned that Section 505 of the bill would place arbitrary quotas on the number of awards that can be given to the strongest of SBIR participants. Furthermore,
members are concerned that this section could prevent the government from being able to utilize
the best and most promising technology."
"The SBIR program is competitive by its nature, and I believe that the system works in its current form. Placing limits on an organization's ability to compete and win with innovative technology is counter to the goals and mission of the SBIR program and could compel government agencies to invest in "second best" technology."
The operative statement in McKeon's letter for you to remember is: "that colleagues in the House have recently brought to my attention..."
Yes, that attention was made possible by the involvement of some small businesses working directly with staffers. This shows the power of educating the staffers as well as the congressmen and senators. We'll have more on this in the Q&A section near the end of this publication.
Obama Issues Presidential Memorandum -- Accelerating Technology Transfer and Commercialization of Federal Research in Support of High-Growth Businesses (Includes SBIR)
On October 28, President Obama issued a memorandum to the heads of executive departments and agencies, on Accelerating Technology Transfer and Commercialization of Federal Research in Support of High Growth Businesses.
Without getting into great detail, Obama's Presidential Memorandum (PM) was more of a hortatory memorandum, being a policy statement to the federal agencies. Although a Presidential Memorandum is a relevant action, it doesn't have the prestige or horsepower of an Executive Order. Nevertheless, it is a significant action on the part of the White House.
Although this PM is targeted more at federal agencies and their federal laboratories, SBIR & STTR (often botched as SBTT by the Hill) are included. Section 3 reads:
Sec. 3. Streamline the Federal Government's Technology Transfer and Commercialization Process. Streamlining licensing procedures, improving public availability of federally owned inventions from across the Federal Government, and improving the executive branch's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBTT) programs based on best practices will accelerate technology transfer from Federal laboratories and other facilities and spur entrepreneurship. Some agencies have already implemented administrative changes to their SBIR and SBTT programs on a pilot basis and achieved significant results, such as reducing award times by 50 percent or more. Over the past year, some agencies have also initiated pilot programs to streamline the SBIR award timeline and licensing process for small businesses. In addition, some agencies have developed new short term exclusive license agreements for startups to facilitate licensing of inventions to small companies. Therefore:
(a) Agencies with Federal laboratories shall review their licensing procedures and practices for establishing CRADAs with the goal of reducing the time required to license their technologies and establish CRADAs to the maximum practicable extent.
(b) The Federal Chief Information Officer and the Assistant to the President and Chief Technology Officer shall, in coordination with other agencies: (i) list all publicly available federally owned inventions and, when available, licensing agreements on a public Government database; (ii) develop strategies to increase the usefulness and accessibility of this data, such as competitions, awards or prizes; and (iii) report their initial progress to OMB and OSTP within 180 days of the date of this memorandum.
(c) The heads of agencies participating in the SBIR and SBTT programs shall implement administrative practices that reduce the time from grant application to award by the maximum practicable extent; publish performance timelines to increase transparency and accountability; explore award flexibility to encourage high quality submissions; engage private sector scientists and engineers in reviewing grant proposals; encourage private sector co investment in SBIR grantees; partner with external organizations such as mentoring programs, university proof of concept centers, and regional innovation clusters; and track scientific and economic outcomes. The OMB, OSTP, and the Small Business Administration shall work with agencies to facilitate, to the extent practicable, a common reporting of these performance measures.
Our federal laboratory and FLC readers should read the entire memorandum because of its significance to federal technology transfer, CRADAs, and commercialization expectations. You'll find the memorandum at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/10/28/presidential-memorandum-accelerating-technology-transfer-and-commerciali
By the way, the official White House press release of this action mentions the success of three SBIR companies, Qualcomm, Symantec, and iRobot, but never once mentions SBIR!! See it at:
USPTO Launches Small Business Innovation Research Pilot Program
Below is part of a press release taken directly from the USPTO web site on October 30, (including the redundancy of "Small Business Innovation Research Pilot Program pilot program").
This program announcement was new to your SBIR Insider, and I need your help if you can fill in the details. USPTO claims a launch of a new SBIR Pilot program in October, but nobody I know can find anything published about it on the web, yet they claim to have provided educational services… We will try to shake things out for you on this because it sounds like something that could be of value to our SBIR community.
Here's a portion of the article, but no contact or address information is available at this time. Perhaps you must be a registered patent attorney to find it. My Reg No. is 9 9 9 (oops! I think that has been taken).
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), in collaboration with the National Science Foundation (NSF), is piloting a program to provide Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awardees with comprehensive intellectual property support through the agency’s small business programs and resources.
Since the launch of the Small Business Innovation Research Pilot Program pilot program in October 2011, USPTO has provided educational services through its Global Intellectual Property Academy (GIPA) which will begin offering monthly webinars covering a broad array of IP topics.
USPTO has also provided its new IP Awareness Assessment tool to its first group of 20 awardees. The IP Awareness Assessment tool was developed in collaboration with The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) to help inventors and companies assess their IP strategies. The USPTO will continue to work with SBIR grant-recipients to refine the program and provide additional services.
We receive hundreds of comments and questions from our readers and I can't always answer each one individually (but I try). To save space, I'm going to combine some questions many of you have submitted:
Q. Are you endorsing a party or candidates?
A. No, I'm neither Republican nor Democrat (I'm a pedestrian). The SBIR Insider endorses no candidates, but we endorse your right to vote for the candidate of your choice. We often let you know some pertinent things about politician's views and actions in regard to small business and SBIR. What you do with it is your business.
Q. I keep getting letters asking for money from an organization [name withheld] claiming to be the leader in the SBIR reauthorization effort. Do you know who these people are?
A. I don't want to detract from anyone's efforts to get SBIR reauthorized in an equitable and fair manner. But, I'm skeptical of anyone claiming they are primarily responsible for any success on the Hill.
There are industry trade groups such as the Small Business Technology Council (SBTC), the granddaddy of all SBIR specific groups. They not only work the Hill, they work with the agencies and small businesses on policy and procedures for the programs (see www.sbtc.org)
However, there is not just one organization or one person who is responsible for putting up the good fight. This is a collaborative effort by many small businesses, and small business organizations, some national and some state & local. There are many other organizations in addition to the SBTC such as Small Biotechnology Business Coalition (SBBC) who specialize in the area of biotech (see www.smallbiotech.org ), National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) representing defense companies of all sizes (see www.ndia.org ), the American Small Business League (ASBL) specializing in the big picture of overall small business issues (see www.asbl.com), National Small Business Association (NSBA) specializing in all small business issues (see www.nsba.biz ), Innovation PAC, a political action committee for SBIR (see www.innovationpac.org ) and others.
Q. What should we do?
A. The most important spoke in this wheel is the small businesses, it's owner(s) and its employees. Yes, I said employees.
To a great degree, our congress (or at least many of the committee leaders in the House) have been bought and paid for. In my opinion, we've got the worst government money has bought!
However, with all the changes we've been seeing, it may be possible that this time money may not buy votes. People are fed up and the politicians feel uneasy.
Become active, call your representative, invite them to visit your company. Network with other small businesses in your district, and go to the town halls. Educate your politicos. Tell the SBIR story, SBIR = Job Creation and Job Retention. Tell them what you need and how it helps not just you, but your district, state and country.
If you get an attitude from them (staffers or representatives), write to your newspaper, publish in a blog, let them know you are not alone and you'll be working on educating the electorate. Let your employees know that they too can become involved BUT any employee interaction must be at the employee's sole discretion on their own time, and not as a "task order" or under pressure from their management.
Be involved even in the primaries. If you're a republican or democrat, make them earn your vote.
Last call for the New Orleans National SBIR Conference, November 6-9, 2011 at the New Orleans Marriott. The national SBIR meetings offer a great opportunity to network, meet new friends, get known by the agency folk and program managers, and learn the ropes in the various sessions. This isn't your father's SBIR and many new issues are being discussed and presented.
Also, Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship will be the keynote speaker. Ms. Landrieu isn't just another political speaker, she's been in the trenches valiantly fighting for SBIR, and she knows the program. I don't know if anyone on the hill has fought any harder for SBIR reauthorization than she has. Ms. Landrieu is taking the time to visit you and she deserves our SBIR community's support.
Registration is still open at www.sbirla.org I hope to see you there.
40 Alderwood Dr.
Sequim, WA 98382
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