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Crow Seeks to Improve SBA Programs for Small Business Innovation

Washington, September 19, 2019

Washington, D.C.— Today, the House Small Business Subcommittee on Innovation and Workforce Development, under Chairman Jason Crow (D-CO), held a hearing focused on SBA programs supporting innovation in the small business sector. The hearing centered on initiatives like Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR), and Growth Accelerator Competition Fund Pilot (GACFP).

Since the 1980s, the SBIR and STTR programs have played a critical role in maintaining America’s position at the forefront of innovation. Both SBIR and STTR allow participating federal agencies to allocate research and development funding to small businesses. These grants create jobs associated with new products that arise out of the research and data shows that these jobs are sustainable and often retained after grant funding has expired. The computer, microchip, and Internet were all achieved through the partnership between the government, academia, and entrepreneurs.

The Obama Administration created the GACFP in 2014 via a pilot program that awarded fifty, $50,000 awards to accelerators that served underserved groups, geographic areas with less access to capital, and organizations focused on manufacturing. These accelerators have proven to have a significant impact on minority demographics. In fact, eighty percent of the GAFC winners serve start-ups that are owned by racial minorities, 42% have start-ups that are owned by women, and 61% helped startups located in disadvantaged areas. The GACFP has also served as a job creator. According to the SBA, companies that emerged out of the pilot launch in 2014 created and sustained 4,769 jobs.

The hearing gave members the chance to speak with witnesses about their experience with the programs and discuss ways Congress can improve them.

“The partnership between federally funded research, academia, and private industry has been pivotal to U.S. technological advancement since the 1930s and has helped the U.S. maintain leadership despite stagnating investments,” said Chairman Crow. “However, the lead is rapidly evaporating. That is why investment and improved access to programs like SBIR/STTR and the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition must continue to grow and succeed.”

“The SBIR program was established with the purpose of strengthening the role of small, innovative firms in federally funded research and development,” said Alison Brown, President and CEO Navsys Corporation in Colorado Springs, CO. “It remains today one of the few successful paths for small businesses to bring innovations into the hands of the warfighters.”

“Federal commercialization programs such as the SBIR Program are critical for our nation’s competitiveness in the world economy,” said Rohit Shukla, CEO of the Larta Institute in Los Angeles, CA. “We must embrace new methods for providing these services to the bold and restless innovators who embody the spirit of American ingenuity, while also basing policy decisions on the wisdom of time-tested, evidence-based processes.”

“The government’s role investing in the building blocks of innovation, empowering innovators, setting the stage for high-quality job creation, catalyzing discoveries to support national priorities and clearing a path for anyone with talent to access opportunity can’t be understated,” said Javier Saade, Managing Partner at Impact Master Holdings & Fenway Summer Ventures. “The American innovation ecosystem is one of our country’s crown jewels and has been the leading source of economic growth and productivity for more than half a century.”

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