Friday, March 5, 2010

SBIR dodges a bullet -- for now. But they'll reload, so let's get busy!

The House passed the so called Jobs Bill (HR.2847) on Thursday with only minor changes from the Senate version. SBIR Reauthorization does NOT appear to have been one of those changes. We haven't seen the actual wording of this bill yet, however, and we do know how sneaky they can be. But apparently Speaker Pelosi wasn't willing to back the Altmire/Velazquez maneuver to fold the House version of SBIR Reauthorization (HR.2965) into this bill.

The Jobs Bill now goes back to the Senate for approval of those minor changes before getting signed. It's doubtful that the Senate will do anything to delay enactment, so we can breathe a sigh of relief.

But make that a brief breath please. We have only a few weeks to get the attention of our legislators to actually get a compromise together that will include the Senate's bill (S.1233) and improve SBIR, not harm it. And there's much work to do

I spoke to Deb Santy earlier this week. She runs the Connecticut SBIR office as an arm of Connecticut Innovations. Deb's group has stepped up to again host the National SBIR Conference. It will be April 21-23 in Hartford. We figure this will be right around the time that SBIR Reauthorization goes on the front burner on Congress before it's expiry date of April 30th. Here's Deb's message to y'all:

"The SBIR Program is under attack. All of us are trying to figure out how to get our government to properly reauthorize the SBIR program. A demonstration of your commitment and support is to show up -- attend the 2010 SBIR National. If you have won awards over the years and want to continue winning them -- you need to show your support and get your "you know whats" over to the SBIR National in Hartford. Make this the best attended SBIR National ever -- because it really needs to be the best. If you want this program to continue, if you want the billions of grant dollars to continue, you need to come and make headlines. Hey, you might even make some great contacts and help commercialize your technologies -- because there is a great lineup of networking and "Partner for Profit" activities. I'll be there .. and so should you. No excuses. Just Register"

I'll be there too, Deb. We know our collective voices can make a difference. We just showed that to be true.

The SBTC is leading this fight, and Jere Glover will be hosting a special meeting of the SBTC in Hartford. We had 100+ at the last such meeting in Reno. Let's double or even triple that for Hartford. Better schedule a big room, Deb!

Make no mistake about it. Those who would hijack SBIR for their own bigger business Wall Street focused agendas will reload and take aim at Main Street's small business interests. We've raised the awareness of SBIR among our legislators to unprecedented levels, but we have to even do more.

Pay attention to the strategies that will be suggested on Pick up your pens (or Blackberries/iPhones/etc.) and keep the information flowing. We may be small business, but we have big voices.

Come to Hartford. We'll get some national attention on our National Conference. Together, we will make a difference.

And, a personal thanks to all of you who wrote me with expressions of support and copies of the letters you wrote to counter the Altmire/Velazquez maneuver. It's exhilarating to know that someone is actually reading what I write! Yee-Haw!


Anonymous said...

Congresswoman Velasquez is, sadly, ingnorant about the way the SBIR program works (and it DOES work, just see the exhaustive National Academy review on it for proof). The truth is that SBIR supports Agency-specified R&D topics and commercialization of products that are technologically advanced and commercially viable BUT WHICH DO NOT NECESSARILY HAVE THE ABILITY TO SCALE TO THE MARKET SIZES REQUIRED BY VC INVESTORS. She should look at the SBIR successes, especially those backed by the DOD and explain how VCs would have funded their development. They would not. Furthermore, over HALF of all VC investment goes to firms in just 3 locations: Silicon Valley, Boston, and New York City. Where is her district?

- Fred Patterson - said...

Why, New York City, of course! Ms. Velazquez's Congressional District (NY-12) includes portions of Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx. Interestingly, there are very few, if any, current SBIR awardees in her District.

If you're curious about her rather shocking opinion of the SBIR program, see Rick Shindell's SBIR Insider issue of March 9th:

- Fred Patterson - said...

Well, it seems Ms. Velazquez must have heard the howls of protest over her SBIR slur, and has changed her story! Read about it here:
Uh huh. Nice move Nydia. Nothing like showing one's true colors, is there?

Anonymous said...

Slightly off-topic. I have seen an example what VC can do to innovation within a company. It was a biotech company, which I once considered as my prospective employer (before I started my own business). The company was founded on the basis of an interesting idea conceived at a very famous university. Once VC got in, they hijacked the management, replaced the key scientists, and started doing things the old-fashioned, expensive and inefficient way, basically nullifying any advantage resulting from the technological quantum leap. The conclusion from this experience, relevant to our discussion here: I do not believe that VC-backed companies will be innovative enough to successfully pass the demanding and highly competitive peer review process, where "innovation" is one of the review criteria. Unless, of course, Mrs. Velasquez wants to redefine peer review too. Perhaps skipping Phase I serves the purpose of such redefining.