Biotech funding bill hits Senate

After linkurl:clearing;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54608/ the House of Representatives in April, a bill meant to extend the life of programs that stimulate innovation at linkurl:small biotech companies;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54816/ has finally found its way onto the floor of the Senate. The Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship linkurl:passed the bill,;http://sbc.senate.gov/press/record.cfm?id=301536& which tacks on 14 years to the lifespans of

By | July 31, 2008

After linkurl:clearing;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54608/ the House of Representatives in April, a bill meant to extend the life of programs that stimulate innovation at linkurl:small biotech companies;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54816/ has finally found its way onto the floor of the Senate. The Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship linkurl:passed the bill,;http://sbc.senate.gov/press/record.cfm?id=301536& which tacks on 14 years to the lifespans of both the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) programs, yesterday (July 30). Both programs, which aim to encourage the development and commercialization of products and technologies by small businesses, were due to sunset this September. The SBIR program granted more than $2 billion to start-ups last year. The bone of contention in the bill has been a clause stating that businesses where greater than 50 percent of stock is held by venture capital investors are still eligible for SBIR awards. The linkurl:Small Business Administration,;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54441/ which manages the programs through 11 federal agencies including the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Science Foundation, had resisted the provision. Current guidelines prohibit such companies from receiving SBIR grants. A compromise clause states that ten SBIR federal agencies can award up to 8 percent of their SBIR funds to these firms, and the National Institutes of Health can award up to 18 percent of its SBIR funds to such companies. Another compromise struck in the Senate committee involved the dollar amounts of SBIR grants. Where the linkurl:House version;http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:h.r.05819: indicated a raise in Phase I SBIR grants from $100,000 to $300,000 and a raise in Phase II grants from $750,000 to $2.2 million, the Senate committee's version scaled back those increases to $150,000 and $1 million for Phase I and II grants, respectively. The bill now goes before the full Senate and will return to the House so legislators there can review the changes.

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