A new piece of legislation is making its way through the U.S. House of Representatives with the creditable goal of improving technology transfer from our country’s universities and nonprofit research organizations. As currently written, however, TRANSFER Act of 2013 (H.R. 2981) plans on paying for this activity by taking away STTR grants from small businesses and transferring these funds to universities.
H.R. 2981 seeks to amend the Small Business Act by directing federal agencies to create a new grant program to “support innovative approaches to technology transfer at institutions of higher education, nonprofit research institutions, and federal laboratories in order to accelerate the commercialization of federally funded research and technology by small businesses.” According to representatives of the Small Biotechnology Business Coalition (SBBC), the bill, as introduced, would pay for itself by removing funds from the very small business charged with this commercialization effort and shift those funds to universities.
In a message drafted to Congress, SBBC points out that studies by the National Academies of Sciences and others have concluded that small businesses in general, and SBIR/STTR grantees in particular, are America’s greatest source of innovation and sustainable job growth. They also note that the European Union allocates over 33% of their healthcare research grants to small businesses recognizing the importance of small company innovators in job creation and disease cures. In stark contrast, NIH grants less than 3% to small businesses and passage of H.R. 2981 in its current form brings this allocation down even further.
The Small Biotechnology Business Coalition stated that they intend to work with the bill sponsors and House and Senate leaders in improving the language of this bill so as to more rapidly facilitate the commercialization by small businesses of federally funded research.
Timothy J. Tschirhart, CPA
Jameson & Company, LLC
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