Senators Shaheen, Markey & Risch Deliver Bipartisan Call for Coordinated Small Business-led Research on Coronavirus

May 12, 2020

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Jim Risch (R-ID) advocated for increased small business-led research related to the coronavirus pandemic and response in a series of letters to the Trump administration on Monday. The Senators wrote to the eleven federal agencies that participate in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs and called on them to coordinate their efforts and focus research on addressing the coronavirus response where applicable. The SBIR program was designed to provide instrumental funding to “infant” industry research and development where obtaining private capital is not yet an option. In their letter, the Senators call on the agencies to put the more than $3 billion in research funding at their disposal towards the fight against the coronavirus.

“Although larger industry will play a vital role in these efforts, small businesses are ready, willing, and more than able to support this response with their own novel ideas and research,” wrote the Senators in their letters. “The SBIR/STTR programs are some of America’s most successful tool at fostering cutting-edge research. Through these programs, we can harness the power of innovation against this pandemic by enlisting small business in the fight.”

A copy of the letters can be found here.

The SBIR program has a proven track record supporting job creation in innovative industries for almost four decades. In 2017, the eleven federal agencies that participate in the programs obligated $2.67 billion of SBIR and $369 million of STTR funding to American small business. To date, funding from the SBIR program has resulted in 70,000 issued patents, close to 700 public companies, and approximately $41 billion in venture capital investments. The SBIR program supports the growth of small, high-tech companies by leveraging a small percentage of federal research and development funding. The program allows small businesses to support federal agencies through contracts in such areas as aerospace engineering, public health and national security. The SBIR program has also resulted in a valuable return on investment for taxpayers.

Senator Shaheen has long supported the SBIR and STTR programs and has been a fierce advocate for them in Congress for nearly a decade. Last June, Shaheen introduced legislation that would permanently reauthorize and increase funding for these programs. Earlier this month, Shaheen announced a $1.5 million SBIR award to Creare, LLC in Hanover, New Hampshire in support of its space exploration technology research.