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Shaheen provision in defense bill paves way for SBIR reauthorization amendment

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today hailed the Senate passage of a bipartisan amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would renew a program integral to American innovation.  The amendment would extend for eight years the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, which allows small companies to compete for federal research dollars.  A similar SBIR measure included by Shaheen during the bill’s original consideration in the Armed Services Committee helped pave the way for today’s vote.

The Senate is expected to vote on the entire NDAA later this week.  The bill then must be reconciled with the version of the bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Today’s vote is an important step forward in securing a long-term extension for the Small Business Innovation Research program,” Shaheen said.  “In order to continue to create jobs in America and ensure our economy remains competitive in the global marketplace, we must focus on entrepreneurship and innovation—which is exactly what this program supports.”

Shaheen, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, ensured that a limited extension of the SBIR program covering defense programs was included in the NDAA when it passed out of committee.  That provision was expanded by passage of the amendment today, which was cosponsored by Senator Shaheen and which includes an extension for the entire SBIR program across all federal agencies.

First created by legislation from New Hampshire Senator Warren Rudman, SBIR was established in 1982 to increase participation of small, innovative companies in federally funded research and development. Since its creation, New Hampshire firms have received over $330 million in research grants through the SBIR program. Despite its size, New Hampshire is ranked 22nd in the nation for total grants awarded through the U.S. Department of Defense over the life of the program.

By allowing small companies to compete for federal research dollars, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program has enabled small firms across the country to innovate and grow.  Yet despite bipartisan support, Congress has failed to pass a long-term authorization for SBIR since 2008 and the program has operated under repeated short-term extensions, making it difficult for small businesses to engage in long-term planning. 

As a member of the Senate Small Business Committee, Shaheen has been a leading advocate for SBIR, cosponsoring legislation to extend the program and advocating repeatedly for its renewal.