Friday, December 18, 2009

SBIR still hanging -- Obama promises big small business push in January

Our Congress, being consumed with forcing through a Health Care bill that most of us don't want, is ignoring most everything else. As predicted, Omnibus Appropriations bills were rushed through this week, but SBIR reauthorization was not included among them. So it'll be January before any more attention is paid to us.

The SBA did get $2 million appropriated for the Federal and State Technology Partnership (FAST) program for State SBIR outreach funding. This hopefully assumes there will be something to reach out for! Unfortunately that money won't go very far. FAST awards have been in the $100K-$150K range. Do the math. But, it's better than nothing I guess -- which is what we had for this the past couple of years.

So, not much to report, and not much to advise y'all to do. We're just hanging. If you get a chance to talk to a legislator (or an aide) during the Christmas recess, do it! They might actually be relieved you're NOT talking about health care.

We do have word from the White House that President Obama will turn his attention to Small Business issues as soon as Health Care is done. We say -- the sooner the better! Perhaps we can get some REAL attention to SBIR and other small business concerns for a change. This lip service we've been getting just isn't cutting it. Frankly, we'll believe it when we see it.

A quick word of memoriam: We were sad to hear of the passing of a real friend to SBIR -- Jim Chern of NASA. He led the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's SBIR/STTR Program and was a frequent speaker at SBIR Conferences. He passed quietly in his sleep while attending the West Virginia SBIR Conference earlier this month. He will be missed.

Boeing did send out its SBIR interest list for the DOD Solicitation 2010.1. Write me if you'd like a copy. And today (Dec 18th) is the last day to pull down copies of the presentations from the Reno SBIR Conference from their website. If you missed doing it and would like a copy of any of the presentations, I've got them all, so write me for that too.

Unless there's something important to relate, I'll take a hiatus from these columns for a bit, and be back in early January with my Annual Predictions. Merry Christmas, Happy Channukah, etc. etc.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Tick...Tick...Tick...SBIR hangs in the balance

Are y'all as disgusted as I am?

Our leaders, elected on a campaign stressing openness, keep making inexplicable one-sided closed-door decisions further widening the partisan political gap.

We seem to be telling our enemies how long to hold on before we'll begin to walk away from the battlefield.

We hold a "Jobs Summit" excluding some of the most important job creation advocates because they disagree with the Administration's health care reform initiatives.

Our "overburdened" legislators take time to hold hearings on the embarrassing "Party-Crasher-Gate" while ignoring the economy-busting impact of "Climate-Gate".

A celebrity's melt-down suddenly becomes the most important news story of the year.

I could go on. But I won't. It's too depressing.

December 18th is only two weeks away. We'll see an Omnibus Appropriations Bill introduced at the last moment just before that date. Betcha there will be no time for debate -- let alone time for actually reading it. If it doesn't pass, the Government shuts down. That won't happen.

SBIR is very likely to be tucked into that pile. Supposedly there's a compromise being worked on. Behind closed doors. Of course. So the clock is ticking. Tick...Tick...Tick.

In the mean time, it's "business as usual" at many of the Federal agencies. That includes gathering SBIR proposals. DOD, NIH, DHS, NIST, NOAA, and even DOEd will be accepting applications this month. NSF and DOE just closed their cycles.

Accepting applications may not mean closing the deal on awards, however. If nothing happens soon, all SBIR but DOD's expires at the end of January. So the Agencies may delay actually committing to disburse funds. Oh goodie. Small businesses sure can afford to wait indefinitely. NOT!

So, yes, I'm disgusted.

I also feel helpless. My Texas Senators and my District's Congressman are all in the party being excluded from the closed-door sessions. They're already sympathetic and supportive of the Senate's version of SBIR Reauthorization. So I "preach to the choir" if I push. Those of you with a different situation -- PLEASE GET BUSY!

The presentations from the National SBIR Conference held in Reno last month have been posted on the Conference's website. Here's the link: ( These will only be available until December 18th, so go look and download anything interesting while you can. Be sure to look at my friend Mark Henry's talk on "Reviewing the Reviewers". You'll find my talk on "Evaluating Readiness for Funding" there too.

The folks at Boeing have released their interest list for the current SBIR topics in the NIST solicitation. Write me if you'd like a copy. I expect to see the Boeing DOD list any day now.

And, finally, please check out the Manhattan Declaration. I've signed it. It feels good to make a stand on principle.