SBIR spends $2.3bn per year in grants of up to $1m per start-up while STTR provides $275m.

The US Congress has agreed to increase funding for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programme until 30 September 2017 and made the schemes open to venture-backed companies. Included in the reauthorisation of SBIR, which started in 1982, is the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, launched a decade later to target university start-ups, and what is now to be called the Commercialization Readiness Program (CRP). SBIR spends $2.3bn per year in grants of up to $1m per start-up while STTR provides $275m. The money comes from bodies spending more than $100m on research and development per year. The latest reauthorisation, however, will see the percentage paid to SBIR and STTR increase from 2% and 0.3% respectively. The SBIR set-aside will rise to 3.2% and STTR to 0.45% in a series of increases by 2017, or about an extra $750m in total. The US Department of Defense provides about half of the total from the 11 federal agencies, followed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of Energy (DOE), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). In December, however, a coalition of 100 universities and professional societies repeated their concerns about the mandatory increase as it "would necessarily result in funding cuts for other peer-reviewed research". In July 2009, scientific and professional societies, higher education associations, and research institutions had initially written to the US government asking that a planned increase in the set-aside to 3.5% be scrapped. But Senator Mary Landrieu, (D-LA) chair of the Senate’s committee on small business, controversially used the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 to encompass the reauthorisation at the reduced set-aside after the failure to pass the Enhancing Small Business Research and Innovation Act of 2009.

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