Padilla Introduces Legislation to Expand Access to Small Business Innovation Programs

WASHINGTON, D.C. — To commemorate National Small Business Week, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) today introduced the Encouraging Small Business Innovation Act. The legislation would make several reforms to the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs to enhance access to capital, improve diversity, and expand the eligible uses of funds for small businesses.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our country’s economy, and for more than 40 years, the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs have spurred innovation, job creation, and economic growth,” said Senator Padilla. “I can see no better way to celebrate this National Small Business Week than to make sure these programs are even more inclusive of underserved populations and better equipped to meet the needs of all U.S. small businesses.”

“BPC Action commends Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) for introducing the Encouraging Small Business Innovation Act. For decades, the SBIR and STTR programs have enjoyed bipartisan support among lawmakers and has been essential means of government support for innovators across the country. BPC Action looks forward to working with Congress to reauthorize and reform the SBIR and STTR programs beyond their September 30th expiration date,” said Michele Stockwell, Executive Director, BPC Action.

Specifically, the Encouraging Small Business Innovation Act would:

  • Require federal agencies to conduct outreach and technical assistance to increase the participation of underserved populations and states in the SBIR and STTR programs.
  • Allow Small Business Investment Companies to participate in these programs and allow applicants to seek funding for testing and evaluation activities.
  • Require participating federal agencies to conduct a joint annual meeting to share best practices for improving data collection and streamlining processes across the programs.

Senator Padilla has been a strong advocate for small businesses in California and across the country. Earlier this year, he secured over $12 million in federal assistance for California small businesses to recover from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. He has also introduced bipartisan legislation to create a new competitive grant program to provide tailored, on-the-ground assistance to small businesses in both urban and rural communities.

In conjunction with several federal agencies, the SBIR and STTR programs foster government-industry and industry-university partnerships by making competitive awards to small firms with the best scientific proposals in response to the research needs of agencies. The funding helps move technologies from the lab to the marketplace or from the lab to insertion in a government program or system.


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