President Biden signed S.4900 to extend the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. The bill extends all existing authorities and sets a new expiration date of Sept. 30, 2025.
In addition to SBIR/STTR, pilot programs extensions include:
- Phase Flexibility – Allows the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Defense (DoD), and Department of Education (ED) to make Phase II awards without an initial Phase I award;
- Civilian Agency Commercialization Readiness – Enables agencies to use a portion of their funds to support promising Phase II technologies further;
- NIH Phase 0 Proof of Concept Partnership – Allows NIH to fund research institutions for grants supporting researchers on proof of concept and commercialization mentoring;
- Commercialization Assistance – Requires agencies to have a program offering continued support to companies, which can mean a third Phase II award;
- Accelerate DoD Awards – Pilot program that requires DoD to make faster award decisions and disbursements; and
- Assistance for Administrative, Oversight, and Contract Processing Costs – Allows agencies to use a portion of their funds to improve program operations, marketing, and reporting.
Additionally, the Legislature changed the performance standards for companies with numerous awards, foreign risk management, and topic solicitations. It now requires several new reports by Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
In summary, the new, higher-tier performance benchmarks for companies with more awards only affect companies with more than 50 Phase I awards over five or more than 50 Phase II awards over 10 years. Companies subject to the Phase II benchmarks will report sales data to the SBA, and the GAO will study the role of companies with 50+ Phase II awards in the program.
The DoD requires each component agency to create an open topic competition each year. Each agency will require new foreign risk mitigation policies, and agencies will have nine months to implement new risk mitigation and due diligence.
If the U.S. House passes the bill on Sept. 28 as expected, there will be no lapse in the SBIR/STTR programs. Once the president signs the bill, all agencies should be able to conduct business as usual as the new requirements are integrated into the programs.