SBIR/STTR REAUTHORIZATION: There is still time to make your opinions known!
Are you confused yet about SBIR/STTR Reauthorization?? If not then you haven’t been paying attention! Although the SBIR/STTR legislation was passed at the end of 2011 the process of implementing the changes is anything but simple. The SBA has been working diligently with the agencies to move things forward. The changes have been split into two parts – Size Rules, which govern eligibility; and the Policy Directive, which guides how the agencies administer the programs.
The proposed Size Rules were published earlier this year for public comment. The public comment period closed on July 16. The SBA hopes to publish the Final Rule by January 1, 2013. If you didn’t already submit comments on this aspect of the changes you are too late. But wait …there’s more!
Many of the changes have a significant impact on the qualifications and parameters of the program. We encourage you to get up to speed on them and make your opinions and concerns known through the Federal eRulemaking Portal using RIN: 3245-AF84 for SBIR comments and RIN: 3245-AF45 for STTR comments.
Comments will be accepted through October 4, 2012. The SBA expects to revise the Policy Directives after that, based on the feedback received—this is likely your last opportunity to influence the outcome.
The SBA website contains a full list of the Key Changes and Implementation Schedule and a FAQ page. We’ve listed below some of the changes resulting from the Policy Directive that our clients and partners may find particularly comment-worthy. A more detailed description of these, plus changes to the size rules, can be found at the links above.
Set-aside percentages are increased. Incremental increases annually to 3.2% in 2017 for SBIR and .45% for STTR in 2016. Note that agencies may exceed these minimum percentages.
Award sizes. STTR award sizes (guideline amounts) are increased to match SBIR amounts: $150,000 for Phase I and $1 million for Phase II. Awards may not exceed guideline amounts by more than 50% ($225,000 for Phase I and $1.5 million for Phase II). Agencies must report all awards exceeding the guideline amounts and must receive a special waiver from SBA to exceed the guideline amounts by more than 50%.
Technical assistance (e.g., for commercialization related help). Amounts increased to $5,000 per award per year for both SBIR and STTR. This amount is in addition to the award amount and awardees may contract with a provider of their choice (e.g., BBCetc) for assistance. Check with individual agencies for details on how they will implement this.
Cross-program awards. Agencies have the option to allow a STTR Phase I awardee to receive a SBIR Phase II award vice-versa. Implementation is at agency discretion.
Direct to Phase II pilot. For fiscal years 2012-2017, the NIH, DoD, and Department of Education may issue Phase II SBIR awards to firms to pursue Phase I solicitation topics without requiring the applicant to have received a Phase I award for related work. Implementation is at agency discretion.
Open Phase II competition. Beginning 10/1/2012, agencies must allow all Phase I awardees to apply for a follow-on Phase II award. Issuing Phase II awards via invitation only will not be permitted.
Second Phase II. Agencies may award a second, sequential, Phase II to continue a Phase II project.
Still confused??? Probably so. Even if you do pay attention, it can be overwhelming. Have opinions about any of these changes to the Policy Directive? We certainly do at BBCetc. But it is YOUR opinions – the entrepreneurs and small businesses – that are the most important. How will these changes affect your use of SBIR/STTR funding???
YOUR OPINIONS MATTER. Let the SBA know.
Lisa Kurek is Managing Partner, BBC Entrepreneurial Training & Consulting.
Becky Aistrup, a BBC Principal Consultant, also contributed to this post.