News of the WeekSBIR Program

Researchers Fight Against Bigger Slice to Small Business

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Science  03 Jul 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5936, pp. 18
DOI: 10.1126/science.325_18

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A coalition of U.S. scientific societies and university organizations is urging Congress not to expand a $2 billion research program for small businesses. To succeed, however, the coalition must overcome one of the most influential interest groups in Washington and mend fences with legislators still smarting from a recent tweak to the program. Science lobbyists argue that increasing the set-aside for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program would take too big a bite out of the government's overall research budget. They are especially concerned about its impact on the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which runs the second-largest SBIR program after the Department of Defense. NIH has seen a sharp drop in the number of SBIR applications, and its officials are worried that expanding the program could force it to fund low-quality projects.