Thursday, April 29, 2010

Greed Drives Continued Campaign to Hijack SBIR's Funding Base

We're getting it from all sides. Small business is being pushed by big bullies. What we get from SBIR funding is tantamount to lunch money -- just enough to keep us from starving. But they want it. Want it all. Want it bad enough to lie and cheat to get it.

Yes, lie.

The bullies make statements asserting that VC funded businesses can't participate in SBIR. Of course they can. The companies just can't be controlled by VCs and still be eligible. And they tearfully make statements asserting that VC controlled company SBIR eligibility was "taken away" in 2002. Bullfrogfeathers. It was never allowed. Tell a lie often enough and people begin to believe it. Trouble is, it's our elected officials who believe the lies. Or (tucking campaign fund envelopes in their pockets or purses) choose to ignore the truth.

And, yes, cheat.

Will someone please ask Representative Jason Altmire (D-PA-4) why he keeps trying to cheat the system by sneaking the House version of SBIR Reauthorization (HR. 2965) into other legislation? This is a bad bill. Viewed by everyone other than the NVCA/BIO bullies as being destructive to true small business innovation.

Altmire tried a couple of months ago to sneak it into the first Jobs Bill. Word is it was stopped by the Speaker after a rather rapid and loud outcry by small businesses all over the country. Altmire's on the House Small Business Committee. Isn't he supposed to be looking out for small business interests? Why is he taking the side of the bullies?

And, he's trying again. In a "dear colleague" letter sent out a few days ago, Altmire asked for support for including HR 2965 in the new "Jobs" bill, asserting that this was a "compromise" and good for small business. More bullfrogfeathers! In fact, the House Small Business Committee has steadfastly refused to negotiate with the Senate's Small Business Committee and hasn't even considered a compromise version of their much more reasonable SBIR reauthorization bill (S.1233) that was presented to it last October!

What's more, Altmire's letter was not signed by a single true small business. Lots of Universities and Big Businesses signed it though. This hijacking attempt is both a lie and a cheat!

We're appealing to the Speaker to again quash this attempt to cheat the system. (Join the Stop Altmire campaign!)

The bullies have gotten $1.5 BILLION in new funding from a combination of provisions in the recently enacted Health Care Reform Bill and the Jobs Bill. You'd think that would make them happy and they'd leave us alone for a while. All it's done is make them more greedy, emboldened to go and get it all. They're well funded and determined. And did I say greedy?

Even the Finance Reform bill inadvertently threatens small business via an unintended consequence of redefining accreditation of Angel investors and the process of doing funding deals. (Join the Save the Angels campaign!)

There have been a few voices out there on behalf of small business. The SBTC, Ann Eskesen, and Rick Shindell, for example, have tried valiantly to get out the word and counter the lies. And there are a host of other advocates who do their best to spread the word. Largely, these efforts have been ad hoc and woefully underfunded.

A new group has formed to try and organize some truth and reasonableness into this mess. It's called the Small Biotechnology Business Coalition (SBBC). Check out their website: See everything they're into. If you're a biotech small business, join. If you're interested in supporting small biotech businesses, join. Any of you not covered by that? Join anyhow.

And, finally, in my last column, I mused about antibacterial lip balm for our legislators' excessive lip-service challenged chapped lips. Little did I know there actually is one. And, it's incredibly (some might say appropriately) branded:

Nothing to add to this, folks. I rest my case.


Anonymous said...

My request to fellow scientists working in small business: never turn down an invitation to review a proposal. Volunteer as a reviewer, if possible.

Carl Nelson said...

Fred, are you surprised (shocked) that legislation is made by gluing together half truths from all sides of the issue?

- Fred Patterson - said...

I'm neither surprised nor shocked, Carl. Just dismayed and disgusted. I guess expecting honor and integrity from our elected legislators is a bit naive on my part. But then "Mr Smith Goes to Washington" is one of my favorite movies. One can only hope for a Jimmy Stewart-like character to emerge and persevere in representing our interests fairly. Sigh... Yeah, when pigs fly I guess.

Jeffrey said...

Fred – From your recent postings, the names, Nydia Velzazquez and Jason Altmire, surface frequently in terms of their pro venture capital position related to the reauthorization of the SBIR program. In the spirit of following the money, I checked and noticed that Velazquez received $8K from the National Venture Capital Association during the 2010 campaign cycle. That was her fourth most significant contribution so far. As for Altmire, I noticed that he received $41,393 from unnamed lobbyists during the same 2010 period. There was no explicit reference to a venture capital (VC) contribution source, although it may be possible that VC lobbyists are represented in this group.

Dr. Jeffrey Everson