In the last issue we posed the question: “Can SBIR Reauthorization be Passed in the Waning Days of the 114th Congress?” The answer is YES! However, this is more of an extension than a reauthorization.
Once again Congress used the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) as the vehicle, this time to extend SBIR/STTR from September 30, 2017 to September 30, 2022. Most of the “base” SBIR/STTR program remain the same, but “pilot” programs expire September 30, 2017. These include (from 15 USC 638):
(cc) Phase Flexibility – better known as “Direct to Phase II”, where a phase I award is not required;
(jj) Phase 0 Proof of Concept Partnership pilot program, including any civilian agency that was engaging in a commercialization pilot program.
(gg)(B)(7) Expiration of all pilot programs and any increased maximum award amounts declared by those pilots.
NOTE: The DoD Commercialization Readiness Program (CRP) remains active and in force until September 30, 2022.
The funding levels (allocation set aside amounts) remain at current levels which is 3.2% for SBIR and .045% for STTR, of a qualifying agency’s extramural R&D budget.
The DoD’s Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) which has been awarding more than $250M in phase III funding, has now been made permanent. However, there was no authorization of appropriation (nor appropriation) so it is basically unfunded after September 30, 2017.
Another unfortunate victim of the extension will be the loss of an agency’s ability to set aside up to 3% of its SBIR funding to help with improved administration, outreach, technical assistance, etc. This will affect some of the services/programs the agencies have been able to offer since this 3% agency option was enacted in the SBIR reauthorization of 2012. The 3% remains in effect until September 30, 2017.
AGENCIES PLEASE NOTE: This 3% program was for you to perform new and/or enhanced services you were not performing prior to December 31, 2011. Consequently, upon expiration of the 3%, you will be expected to do no less than you were providing in December of 2011. (See 15 USC 638 (mm)(1)(C) Although we were able to see the positive effects of this 3% program (mostly anecdotally), adequate reporting data has not been made available to this point in order to save it. We hope that will come soon so it may be reevaluated and hopefully restored. Many of us know it is needed.
So the bottom line is everything stays “as is” at least until September 30, 2017, then, if no legislative improvements are forthcoming in the new congress, the pilot programs will expire BUT the SBIR/STTR programs will continue.
The Small Business Technology Council (SBTC) and others are looking into ways and opportunities to offer improvements to the programs. They will work closely with the new congress and will solicit help from the SBIR community. We’ll talk more about that in an upcoming edition. Visit sbtc.org for their details.
Courtesy of SBIR Insider, Zyn Systems www.zynsys.com/sbir