In a victory for small-business innovation, this week, $85 million in additional funding for the Small Business Innovation Research [SBIR] program was signed into law. Sens. John Kerry [D-Mass.] and Tom Harkin [D-Iowa] pushed for this funding to be included in the final version of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act [H.R. 3222], which Congressman John Murtha [D-Pa., pictured] secured in the House bill. The funding will allow the military to increase the use of small, high-tech businesses to help the military develop the best technologies, diversify the supply base, and reduce costs.
“Investing in small-business research pays off, both for our national security and our economic security,” noted Sen. Kerry, chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. “In my home state of Massachusetts, which has received the second-most SBIR grants in the country, small businesses are helping the military cut shipbuilding costs and develop more effective unmanned transportation systems. This increased funding will help ensure that our troops have access to the best technology America has to offer.”
“This partnership between small businesses and the Department of Defense allows Iowa’s innovative technology market to support our national security endeavors,” explained Sen. Harkin, a senior member of Kerry's committee. “In past years, local businesses have helped our military members by equipping them with improved sonar capabilities and developing technologies to reduce flight-deck noise and protect against hearing loss. I am eager to see how the Iowa workforce puts these newly secured funds to good use in developing cutting-edge technologies in the coming years.”
The additional funding will be used to support the transition of SBIR technologies at the DoD: $20 million will be allocated to the Army’s Future Combat Systems; $40 million for the Navy’s surface ship and submarine development activities; and $25 million for the Joint Strike Fighter program.
Kerry and Harkin, working with Sen. Olympia Snowe [R-Maine], ranking member of the committee, will be working on comprehensive legislation to renew the small-business research program next year.
On Oct. 1, 2007, the Senate passed an amendment to temporarily extend the SBIR program through 2010 and prevent a shutdown or funding delays when the program expires in September 2008. The Senate also passed an amendment to extend a DoD pilot program that helps firms transition their projects to the marketplace.
Sources: Library of Congress, OpenCongress, U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
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