SBIR/STTR reauthorization passes Senate, moves to House

The Senate on Tuesday approved the reauthorization of significant small company seed funding programs: the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) programs.

The Senate’s approval came about 10 days before the programs were set to expire on Sept. 30, and put the reauthorization on track for what ought to be a swift approval in the House of Representatives, according to watchers.

This is a victory for Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) members and lobbying efforts, according to the organization’s newsletter Good Day BIO.

What is SBIR/STTR?

The Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) programs offer grants to companies at the “seed funding” stage, with offers up to $250,000 for the first 6 to 12 months of a concept’s development, and up to $750,000 extra if the idea proves to be marketable.

Nearly 200,000 awards totaling more than $63.8 billion have been given to U.S. small companies through these initiatives over the course of 40 years.

Many of the startups and small companies that make up BIO’s membership depend on seed funding to bring revolutionary ideas to life – from the lab to the market. As we’ve highlighted in Bio.News, many of these businesses have received grants under the SBIR/STTR programs, helping to bring innovations for patients and the planet to reality.

“SBIR has been critical and important to our development,” said Erika Smith, CEO of ReNetX Bio, speaking during a recent BIO webinar on the importance of reauthorization of the programs.

“In 2013, we received our first SBIR funding to…see whether our therapy might be able to prevent or blindness and it was instrumental to the opportunity in our pipeline in ophthalmology and to help people who are blind,” continued Smith.

SBIR/STTR reauthorization is critical to bring biotech innovations to the market

The programs were delayed in the Senate Small Business Committee, as Bio.News previously reported, even though funding was due to expire on September 30.

However, the bill was amended to meet concerns by some Members of Congress about China’s access to the innovations. On Tuesday, the bill cleared the Senate with unanimous support.

The House is expected to act swiftly to approve the Senate-passed reauthorization of SBIR/STTR ahead of the Sept. 30 deadline.

“Even a short disruption in these programs could have negative consequences for patients because it would delay the development of biotechnology solutions and innovative medical devices. America’s small businesses have flourished under these programs and have risen to the challenge, developing new treatments for patients – this is important especially as the nation works to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. These programs must be reauthorized as soon as possible,” BIO wrote in a statement, which asked companies and stakeholders to send letters to their Members of Congress to urge reauthorization.

Watch BIO’s SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Webinar:

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