Small Business Research Program Gets 2-Month Lifeline

Jeff tries to explain how government works to readers of Science.

A $2.5 billion-a-year program to fund research by small businesses received a 2-month extension last week. The move gives the U.S. Congress more time to reconcile differences in how to revamp the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, which would have expired on 31 July without the extension.

The Senate and the House of Representatives have passed different versions of a bill to reauthorize the programs, which are funded by taxing the research budgets of 11 federal agencies. The Senate wants to grow the overall size of the program by raising the SBIR allocation from 2.5% to 3.5% over 10 years and the STTR allocation from 0.3% to 0.6%, while the House would like to see larger individual grants—up to $2 million for Phase II from the current ceiling of $750,000. The two houses also differ in how they would fix a 2002 ruling that limits participation by companies owned by venture capitalists. The Senate would reauthorize the programs until 2023, while the House bill would cover only 2 years.

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