More Support For Innovations?

Congress is impressed enough with the Small Business Innovation Research Program to think about giving the scheme an extra boost. Begun in 1982, the.program funnels money to small new high-tech businesses in order to speed the flow of potentially commercial ideas from the laboratory to the market. The funds come from a tax on the research budgets of all large federal science agencies including NASA, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Department of Defense. But there hasn’t been enough money to go around: this year, for example, NSF expects to fund only 160 of the 1500 proposals it has received (doling out a total of $19 million), even though reviewers thought that twice as many deserved support.

So, in one obscure item in last summers massive trade bill (P.L. 100-418), Congress asked the General Accounting Office to study the pros and cons of gradually raising from...

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