Unless reauthorized the SBIR program was scheduled to end as of September 30, 2008. While no one has spoken against the program being reauthorized, a number of changes have been proposed that have caused disagreement among various interested parties. Some of these changes have been discussed in earlier postings to this blog and some Georgia companies have expressed their views to our Congressional representatives.
The House of Representatives passed a SBIR reauthorization bill this past spring (H.R.5819) and the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee passed a bill in June (S.3362) that has significant differences with the House bill. While some discussions have been held since then, no action has been taken and Congress is now preoccupied with other issues of great importance.
So, is the SBIR program dead? No, it seems that earlier a bill was quietly passed through Congress and signed by the President that extends a number of small business programs, including SBIR, through March 20, 2009. It is possible that the lame-duck Congress could pass SBIR reauthorization later this fall; they seem to mostly work against deadlines which they then extend. So it is more likely that the new Congress will take the issue up anew and it is also possible that with the many priorities that they will be addressing, the SBIR program will be extended again, beyond March 20th.
Regardless of the timing, the input of companies who believe in the program and how it is structured is important. You cannot sit on your hands and assume a positive outcome will automatically happen. Stay tuned for future developments!