Over 65 Illinois business leaders signed on to a letter delivered on September 13, 2022 to Illinois Congressional Delegation emphasizing the importance of reauthorizing the SBIR/STTR program. 

The current legislation is set to expire on September 30, 2022 – something that would cause great disruption to the grantees already awarded and those pending research funding, as well as to the agencies providing the funding. The state’s life sciences ecosystem includes many early-stage bioscience companies that rely on SBIR/STTR funding to advance and de-risk innovative health care solutions for patients. Federal R&D funding also provides a basis for scientific and technical validation, which attracts private investment when few other funding sources are available. SBIR/STTR programs are the largest source of early-stage technology financing in the United States. The programs are highly competitive and encourage small businesses to explore their technological potential. Funding is available from 11 participating agencies and focuses on a variety of technological areas, including life sciences.

Since 2011, companies and institutions in Illinois have received 1,294 SBIR awards totaling $565 million. These awards lead to real jobs and economic growth in our community. According to a 2018 report from the National Cancer Institute, over a 10-year period, Illinois companies received $15.5 million in NCI SBIR grants. That funding created 318 direct jobs ($34.9 million in labor income) and $78.9 million in output.

It is vitally important that this legislation be reauthorized before it expires on September 30th. Unlike many federal programs that regularly operate beyond the end of their authorization, there is no appropriation that will ensure the SBIR/STTR program continues as-is without congressional action! A disruption in the program could mean that important research on new therapies and technologies is suspended or stopped, sending additional shocks through the supply chain that supports pre-clinical research. Federal agencies could also see their research and technology development stalled by a disruption in these programs. Both small businesses and the granting agencies need certainty, stability, and predictability to budget and plan, especially as the nation works to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and faces ongoing economic challenges.