Thursday, March 10, 2011

Levin: Bill approved by Senate Small Business Committee would aid small, high-tech Michigan businesses

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said the Senate Small Business Committee’s March 9 reauthorization of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs will assist small, high-technology businesses in Michigan and across the country. The committee approved a bill that would fund the programs for the next eight years, and the bill will now go to the full Senate for consideration.

"The Small Business Innovation Research program shows how well-managed, strategic federal investments can be used to leverage the most innovative parts of our technology and industrial base to make our nation more secure, healthy, and globally competitive," said Levin, who is a senior member of the Small Business Committee. "I’m pleased that the committee increased funding for the SBIR so we can continue to see the enhanced return on investments we are making through this program."

The SBIR and STTR programs invest federal research and development (R and D) funding in small businesses. Eleven federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, and the US Department of Agriculture, allocate a portion of their R and D budgets for small businesses.

The SBIR and STTR programs have encouraged innovation, created jobs, and helped the government to solve problems cost-effectively. According to the committee, small businesses produce more than 13 times the number of patents than large businesses and universities, and they employ nearly 40 percent of America’s scientists and engineers.

Numerous Michigan businesses have benefited from SBIR and STTR funding. With SBIR funding, Ann Arbor’s Cybernet, a leader in robotics, saved the government $27 million in the first four months of implementation and hundreds of millions of dollars over the past five years. SBIR-backed A123 opened the largest lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant in Livonia, creating more than 400 jobs in Michigan. And, as a result of an SBIR grant, Canton’s CasterShoX created noise-dampening products that have reduced noise-induced hearing loss for American factory workers.

Editor's Note: Last August Senator Carl Levin spoke about the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program to a group of local business owners and members of the Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance (KEDA) in Houghton. See our Sept. 2, 2010 article, "Sen. Levin speaks at Small Business Roundtable in Houghton."

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