Dear SBIR Insider,
After a long absence, here we are at the year's end with quite a few important SBIR/STTR items to share with you. I apologize for the length of this edition. With the recent passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of FY-2015 and the FY-2015 CRomnibus, we may paraphrase on a Pelosi-ism: "Now that we passed it we can find out what's in it and see how the agencies will handle it."
Note: For our NIH readers, please see the article on the change and expansion of receipt dates for their current omnibus SBIR/STTR solicitation and beyond. This is NEW and important.
In this issue…
In this issue:
SBA Request for Comments on Phase III: SBIR and STTR Data Rights, and Rules for Phase III Awards
The SBA has published a request for comments to their Advanced Notice of Policy Directive Amendments. This is a complex set of issues that is of more interest to advanced Phase II / Phase III companies, but is important for all (today's phase I company may be tomorrow's phase II and beyond).
For example, (one of the easier to digest questions) the SBA asks: Whether SBA should define "to the greatest extent practicable" with respect to when agencies shall issue these Phase III awards; and if so, how the phrase should be defined."
On one hand your Insider has heard: "No, it’s important that nothing be added by way of definition that could unintentionally create an avoidance loophole unless it is something like 'to the greatest extent practicable, without exception.'"
Another equally qualified camp has stated: "SBA should define the terms and use the standard definition in the dictionary. Practicable definition: "capable of being put into practice or of being done or accomplished" Greatest definition: "remarkable in magnitude, degree, or effectiveness"
The rest gets very complex but is important. To aid in this response, the Small Business Technology Council (SBTC) has created a Phase III Contracting Survey for you to fill out. It should only take a few minutes and could be vitally important in providing guidance to the SBA and the agencies. The address for the survey is http://sbtc.org/?p=1630
The SBTC also has a draft paper concerning the SBA request for comments. It is located at http://sbtc.org/?p=1636
The original SBA request for comments is at http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=SBA-2014-0013-0001 Commenting period closes on January 6, 2015.
Major Change to NIH SBIR/STTR Dates (Retroactive to Dec 5, 2014)
The NIH has just announced a major change to its SBIR/STTR proposal date cycle. In this case a "cycle" is synonymous with a proposal receipt date. With that in mind, here's what's happening:
The NIH is extending their current PHS 2014-02 Omnibus Solicitation (PA-14-071) from 3 cycles to 4. That means the "non-aids" topics (whose 3rd cycle ended Dec 5, 2014) now has an additional 4th cycle with a receipt date of April 5, 2015. Likewise, the aids topics (whose 3rd cycle ends Jan 7, 2015) has a 4th cycle receipt date of May 7, 2015. This includes CDC, FDA and ACF. The current PHS 2014-02 Omnibus Solicitation will expire on May 8, 2015 so there will be no August receipt date.
Here's the reason for the change. NIH, who historically released their omnibus SBIR/STTR solicitation in January, is changing the release date to June 2015. From that point forward they return to the 3 cycle solicitation with the new receipt dates for both aids and non-aids being September 5, 2015, January 5, 2016 and April 5, 2016.
So if you missed the Dec 5 receipt date, and/or if you want to make additional proposals to NIH, you are good through April 5, 2015 (non-aids) and May 7, 2015 (for aids related). Continue to follow the guidance in the original solicitation with the exception of the new receipt dates.
NIH runs a robust but complicated SBIR program. So get the information straight from the source at:
Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) Receives $225 Million for FY-15
"The Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) is designed to transition innovative technologies, primarily from small businesses, that resolve Department of Defense operational challenges." This is the description as given on the DoD's Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP) web site.
RIF opportunities are not a direct part of SBIR but often involve SBIR companies. In fact, many SBIR phase III successes could not have happened without the RIF program. RIF solicitations are actually incorporated in a DoD component's Broad Agency Announcement (BAA), with individual BAAs offered from the Air Force, Army, Navy, and the OSBP for smaller units.
The House version of the NDAA had the RIF program funded at $75M but through bicameral negotiation with the Senate, the CRomnibus (which has the final say) appropriated $225M through the remainder of FY-2015 (September 30) for RIF. Now we'll see how the services handle it.
DoD FY-2015A STTR Find a Partner Site Opens
The DoD has recently released its FY2015.1 SBIR and FY-2015.A STTR with an opening date of January 15, 2015 and closing February 18, 2015.
STTR requires small businesses to partner with a "research institution" such as a university, Federally Funded R&D Center (FFRDCs) including National Laboratories, and other non-profit research institutions.
The SBIR Gateway has just opened its STTR Partnering site to help small businesses and research institutions find partners for one or more of the DoD's FY-2015.A STTR topics. You can list your company's (or research institution's) interest in specific topics.
Starting next week you will be able to look for companies/universities/research institutions who posted their topic interests. However if everyone looks but nobody posts, it will be a waste of everyone's time. So if this is to be a useful tool, please post your interest.
Go to http://www.zyn.com/sbir/partnering and click on "View/Select Topics". Since the partnering site is just now started, we don't have many entries yet so it's a good time to get your organization listed.
This is an independent effort of the Zyn SBIR Gateway and is not connected to any agency. Like all SBIR Gateway tools, it's free and we don't "plant" any software or cookies on your computer. You may also find it the fastest way to view and search DoD STTR topics.
2014 SBIR Person of the Year Announced
This year it may be termed Person(s) of the year because the selection goes to two people who are outstanding SBIR State Representatives. They have made a difference, not just for their state but for all states as well as the agencies involved in SBIR.
Person(s) of the Year: Dr. Mahendra Jain and Mr. Roy Keller
Many states have programs with varying degree of success, but two state leaders, Dr. Mahendra Jain of Kentucky, and Mr. Roy Keller of Louisiana are paramount examples of state representatives. They have stepped forward to help support the SBIR community, share best practices of their unique state programs, and discuss how to do a better job of supporting SBIR and small business within a state. They also have been contributors to the agencies and the SBA.
Dr. Jain and Mr. Keller have traveled across the country making presentations on the importance of state outreach programs, assisting the SBA with state meetings at the National SBIR Conferences, providing congressional testimony on SBIR, and presenting at the National Academies', National Research Council's (NRC) Workshop on SBIR/STTR and the Role of State Programs.
The Person of the Year article is located at www.zyn.com/sbir/articles/14poy.htm
The Winds of Change - Agency Level
Time marches on and so do people's careers. Here's a look at a few changes that may affect SBIR and small businesses.
John Williams moves to SBA - Long time Navy SBIR/STTR program director John Williams has "requested permission to go ashore" or in other terms has left the ship for new opportunities. Williams' new role as a member of the federal government's prestigious "Senior Executive Service," is Director of Innovation, at the SBA's Office of Investment and Innovation. Williams' experience transcended the navy SBIR programs and included coordination with all eleven SBIR agencies. He was the lead and driving force for the agencies to reestablish the National SBIR Conferences, and was named last year's SBIR Person of the Year [see www.zyn.com/sbir/articles/13poy.htm ]. John is well respected in the small business community and will stay close to SBIR, but that will be in addition to many other duties he will have at SBA.
Bob Smith, Navy SBIR - With the departure of John Williams, the Navy has appointed Mr. Bob Smith as the new "acting" Navy SBIR/STTR Program Director. Smith is no stranger to the Navy's SBIR/STTR programs, and he has a long history of supporting technology development efforts in the Naval Research Enterprise (NRE). He has nearly 10 years of service on the OPNAV and Navy Secretariat staffs (RDA and Comptroller), as well as working at the Office of Naval Research on several technology transition programs, including the Navy's RIF program. In accepting his new appointment, Bob stated: "I consider it an honor to lead the best SBIR/STTR program in DOD and the Federal government."
Kenyata Wesley to OSD-OSBP - Mr. Kenyata Wesley, formerly Chief Associate Director, Office of Small Business Programs at the Army, has moved up to the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) to become the new Senior Executive Service Deputy Director at the Department of Defense Office of Small Business Programs. Mr. Wesley has taken the position formerly held by Joseph Misanin who retired from the government but is still active in the S&T world. Kenyata has been very impressive in his presentations and gets high marks from those who have talked with him (including your Insider). He's a welcome addition and will serve the programs and his boss, Andre Gudger well.
Chris Rinaldi to OSD Commercialization - Earlier this year, DoD OSBP Director Andre Gudger created the new position of Chief Commercialization Officer (CCO), which will lead small business commercialization efforts in the DoD OSBP. Gudger has tapped Mr. Chris Rinaldi to head this effort. Rinaldi was previously the DoD's SBIR Program Administrator.
Tracy Frost to OSD OSBP SBIR - Tracy Frost, formerly with the Office of Naval Research SBIR program, was on detail to the OSD OSBP, and has now become the DoD OSBP SBIR Program Administrator. This fills the vacancy created when Chris Rinaldi moved to PEO Commercialization. Ms. Frost was very well received at the recent DoD Beyond Phase II conference in San Antonio, and she brings youthful energy and spirit, as well as a good deal of knowledge to the position.
The Winds of Change - Hill Level
With retirements and voter mandated changing of the guard, we will see many changes in the House and Senate as it relates to small business. The Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship will be chaired by David Vitter (R-LA). The current chair, Maria Cantwell (D-WA) will move to Energy to become ranking member, and Ben Cardin (D-MD) is slated to take the role of ranking member.
In the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), the current chair, long time Senator and great SBIR friend, Carl Levin is retiring. Levin has played a key role in SBIR reauthorizations going back to 2000. The new chair will be John McCain (R-AZ). One difference between McCain and Levin (other than the obvious) is that Levin spent all of his 36 year Senate career serving on the Small Business Committee. He knew small business and worked hard for them. Jack Reed (D-RI) will be the ranking member of the SASC and as a former military man, he is expected to work well with McCain. He knows the DoD very well.
Over in the House, the House Small Business Committee (SBC) gavel will belong to Steve Chabot (R-OH) who replaces Sam Graves (R-MO) who must step down due to republican term limits on committees. Mr. Chabot knows small business and has a long involvement them except for a short time when he was victim of the democratic sweep of the House in 2008. Chabot regained his seat in 2010, but he is very aware that people can be "unelected" if they don't serve their constituents. On the other side you have Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) who returns as ranking member. Yes this is the same person who claims to support SBIR but once voted to let SBIR lapse.
In the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) we have a situation like the SASC in that the current chair, Howard "Buck" McKeon is retiring. The very well liked and respected McKeon has been an SBIR supporter and will be replaced by Mac Thornberry (R-TX) who has served beside McKeon for the last 4 years . By the looks of things, Thornberry will not let any grass grow under his feet. Ranking member Adam Smith (D-WA), will remain in that position for the new Congress.
Lastly we have the House Science, Space & Technology Committee (HSS&T) where current chair Lamar Smith (R-TX) will retain his position, as will ranking member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX). Historically the HSS&T committee has been luke warm towards SBIR as they are heavily "influenced" by "segments" of the university community who believe that SBIR funds have been drawn from R&D monies belonging to academia.
At this point the 113th Congress has adjourned sine die, and barring a national emergency, goes into the history books. You and the history books will judge the effectiveness of this congress.
However, leaving partisan politics aside (long time readers know I hold both parties in equal contempt), I want to acknowledge a couple of special people leaving the Senate, without whom we would have had either no SBIR program, or one we would not even recognize.
The first is to Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, who in the throws of fighting for SBIR reauthorization (for years) had the guts and tenacity to go over to the House Small Biz and House SS&T and (to quote Harry Truman) "talked to them in a language they could understand." SBIR/STTR received a 6 year reauthorization (while the House would only allow 2 and Levin wanted 14), and she fought for, and received many of the strong provisions that small businesses benefit from today. I wish her well and know she'll land on her feet for whatever is in her future interest.
Next is Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, one of the most admired Senators by his peers on both sides of the aisle. As long time chair of the Armed Services Committee (one of the most powerful positions in the Senate) Levin came to the rescue of SBIR multiple times when the reauthorization couldn't make it on its own. Levin was a consummate small business supporter, as evidenced by the fact that he served on the small business committee for his entire 36 year senate career! Although Levin's style was "understated" he had a way to get things done and positively influence his peers. Small businesses, the warfighter, congress and the country will miss Carl Levin, and his contributions to the nation.
Last, but not least is a senate staffer who has been fighting for the SBIR program (and other small business programs) since the late 1990's. I'm referring to Ms. Kevin Wheeler from the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. Kevin started with the committee working for it's chair John Kerry (D-MA). Wheeler has been a constant, working for the chair/ranking member of the committee, serving Senators Kerry, Mary Landrieu and Maria Cantwell. With each change in leadership, Kevin Wheeler adapted and worked within the image her senators preferred, while fighting for small business and SBIR. In 2008 she was named SBIR Person of the Year [see http://www.zyn.com/sbir/articles/08poy.htm ]. Many of you know Ms. Wheeler because she has reached out to the small business community at many events across the nation. It's unknown at this time if Wheeler will stay with the committee, as the democrats transition to the minority party. She's been in that role before and regardless of minority or majority, Carly Simon said it best: "Nobody Does it Better."
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas, Gut Yontif, Happy Kwanzaa, and a Good and Healthy New Year!
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