House Passes Piece of Lipinski's Jobs Plan: Program Will Help Turn Innovations into Small Business Jobs

Today, Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-IL) helped pass in the House the long-term reauthorization of the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs, which help small businesses to conduct research and development that leads to new technologies, innovative products, and jobs. The reauthorization includes an amendment authored by Rep. Lipinski that establishes a program to assist academic and national laboratory researchers in turning their research findings into successful businesses.

“One of the pillars of my five-point jobs plan is investing in cutting-edge research that leads to innovative new products and jobs,” Rep. Lipinski said. “That’s why I’m very proud to have helped finally pass a long-term reauthorization of the SBIR/STTR programs and to have succeeded in including the ‘proof of concept’ program in the legislation. This legislation is about unleashing the job-creating potential of small businesses and entrepreneurs and making sure America remains the world’s high-tech leader.

“The ‘proof of concept’ program will establish grants of up to $100,000 for individual researchers to help them prove that their innovative research has a commercial application and can form the basis for a viable, job-creating business. This investment can spell the difference between failure and success, or between a great idea that sits on the drawing board and one that leads to a profitable business. This program builds on the example of a number of other similar programs, including one at the University of Virginia that has generated a 5:1 return on investment. It’s critical that we do everything we can to help turn our federal investment in research into economic growth and jobs.”

Through his work on the Science, Space, and Technology and Small Business Committees, Rep. Lipinski has been a leader in the effort to reauthorize the SBIR and STTR programs. The programs provide awards for small businesses through a highly competitive program to enable them to carry out promising research and development. The reauthorization allows for greater participation from small businesses with venture capital support, raises award levels for the first time since 1982, and continues the programs for six years.

SBIR success stories include telecommunications giant Qualcomm, which has grown from 35 to 17,500 employees; internet security provider Symantec, which has grown to more than 17,000 employees since SBIR’s investment; digital communications company ViaSat, now with 750 employees; and semiconductor and advanced packaging company ATMI, now with 800 employees.

The SBIR/STTR reauthorization language provides $5 million for Rep. Lipinski’s pilot program. The National Institutes of Health would be authorized to award competitive grants of up to $1 million to universities and other research institutions, which in turn will award grants to researchers. Grants could pay for prototype development, market research, developing an intellectual property strategy, and other commercial opportunity investigation work. A review board of experts at each university or institution will provide oversight and the Director of NIH will report back to Congress on the program’s results.

“I continue to work to promote both short-term and long-term job growth in accordance with my jobs plan,” Rep. Lipinski said. “I urge small businesses to take advantage of the SBIR/STTR programs and help America create the good jobs we need. 

(December 14, 2011)