Tuesday, December 13, 2011

SBIR Reauthorization is VERY close - But don't light that cigar yet.

[UPDATE: On Dec 15th, Congress approved the NDAA Bill (H.R.1540) and sent it to President Obama for signature. See SBIRreauthorization.com for that update. As we saw in what happened to the NIH's ARRA stimulus money ("Hidden in the Fine Print"), strange things can happen to bills coming out of Conference Committee and going for signature. So pardon my hesitation to celebrate until the ink is dry and we can examine what was signed. Once we've verified that SBIR has REALLY been reauthorized as heralded, I'll publish a new commentary.]

The SBIR Reauthorization fight is almost over. The House Small Business Committee has FINALLY decided to compromise in good faith. SBIR really does have a good chance to be reauthorized in the next few days without having been destroyed in the process.

Sam Graves (R-MO), the Chairman of the House Small Business Committee, and Ralph Hall (R-TX), Chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, issued a Press Release on December 12th announcing that a deal had been struck with the Senate. Here's a link to that PR: http://smallbusiness.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=272194.

However - and this is a BIG HOWEVER - the fact that a deal has been struck, does not mean a bill has been passed! We're not there yet! As we've seen in the past when we were on the brink of victory, strange things can and do happen to slam-dunk bills.

Your best source for the true skinny is to subscribe to Rick Shindell's SBIR Insider: SUBSCRIBE. Here are excerpts from the Issue he published last evening (Dec 12th):

Dear SBIR Insider,

We have some very encouraging news for you on the status of SBIR reauthorization, but contrary to what you may have read, SBIR has NOT been reauthorized.

We have been deluged with calls and emails tonight by those who said they read in another newsletter that SBIR was reauthorized. Although a deal was struck this afternoon, SBIR reauthorization has not yet happened, but we're closer than we've ever been in this iteration of the reauthorization process.

An agreement between the Senate and House on SBIR/STTR reauthorization has been reached. Reauthorization is in the form of negotiated modifications to an amendment offered to the Senate's version of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012 (NDAA), by Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship.

Because this agreement is part of the much larger NDAA, it was asked that details be kept to a minimum until the entire NDAA conference agreement is forthcoming (hopefully tomorrow, but soon).

A few details we can present include:

· Authorization for 6 years (through 2017)

· Majority ownership by VC, private equity and hedge funds allowed up to 25% for NIH, DOE and NSF, and up to 15% for the others.

· Increasing the SBIR allocation from 2.5 to 3.2 percent and the STTR allocation from .3 percent to .45 percent incrementally over the 6 years of reauthorization.

· Allows 3% of SBIR funds for the agencies to use for administration, outreach, and increasing participation from "have not" states, and minorities.

· Does not include House section 505, limiting awards to companies, but develops guidelines to measure success of a firm's participation.

· Does allow (at an agency's discretion) skipping of phase I (limited to DoD, NIH, and ED).

We will provide the details once it all comes into focus.

Rick Shindell
SBIR Gateway
Zyn Systems

So, we still have a sprint to the finish to go. Stay with us by monitoring Rick's SBIR Insider and our SBIR reauthorization update page: www.SBIRreauthorization.com.

On a personal note, I've been rather silent on this forum for a while, due to some very pressing health issues concerning my wife, Kay, and myself.

She's been courageously fighting ovarian cancer for many years and we're now in the end game with that. Overtime, even - month nine of home-hospice and I'm her primary care-giver. (Note: Median time of a patient in hospice care is less than one month!) She asked me yesterday what I wanted for Christmas, and I replied that she'd already given me the best gift she ever could - having her with me for another Christmas.

Then just since Labor Day, I began to fight my own personal Reauthorization Battle: Throat cancer. Stage IV out of nowhere. I've already had some surgery, and am currently in chemotherapy. I'm writing a Journal of my experiences on this journey via CaringBridge.org - a wonderful website deserving of support. Read my Journal and keep up with my progress on www.CaringBridge.org/visit/FredPatterson/. Please do leave me notes there. They lift my spirits.

I see each course of therapy with this fight as a Continuing Resolution on my life's reauthorization. To stretch a metaphor, God signs the Bills on Fred's Life that get passed. Jesus is my Committee Chairman, and His Plan will be what gets passed to the Heavenly Desk for signature. If you'd like to offer testimony to His Committee, no invitation is necessary, and I understand He accepts knee-mail 24/7. I'm not privy to the negotiations, but can only pray that I've done what He expected me to as I've made my journey through this life. (Thank goodness Nydia isn't in that loop. God only knows what she'd expect of me!)

I'm continuing to work as best I can. Scaling back a bit while taking treatments, of course, but serving my long-term clients as usual, and even taking on some new clients with truly innovative game-changing technologies having a dyn-o-mite Business Model to support their eventual commercialization. I don't have to work so hard to make them competitive!

Thanks to all of y'all who responded to the call for letters supporting this SBIR reauthorization compromise. We did make a difference.

We wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy Hanukkah. And, of course, our very best wishes for a Happy New Year.

Fred and Kay Patterson