Five-year Extension for Innovative Federal R&D Programs is Good News for Photonics, say SPIE Leaders

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SBIR and STTR included in compromise bill for National Defense Authorization Act, with votes expected soon

These programs have been important in advancing research to product, and have become models for this critical step in the innovation chain.

A proposed five-year extension for programs strengthening the role of innovative U.S.-owned and -operated small businesses in federally funded research and development is welcome news for the photonics community, say leaders of SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics.

As part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) compromise agreement finalized today between the House and Senate, a five-year extension of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs at all agencies was included within report language, the Senate Small Business Committee announced today.

“While SBIR and STTR do not expire until Fiscal Year 2017, Congress’ actions now ensure stability for the programs for several years,” said SPIE Government Affairs Director Jennifer Douris.

NDAA is expected to be passed in the House of Representatives and Senate in the coming days, Douris said. Earlier attempts to reauthorize the programs against a deadline had created the threat of a shutdown or a string of stop-gap measures.

“Small businesses have demonstrated the ability to quickly develop innovative technologies that meet medical, space, and national security needs,” said SPIE Engineering, Science, and Technology committee chair Jim McNally. “The innovations they have generated have been a great source of high-paying job creation, and have driven continued technological superiority. I am really pleased to see Congress take this action to re-authorize the SBIR and the STTR programs.”

SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs also noted the programs’ influence on the photonics industry.

“These programs have been important in advancing research to product, and have become models for this critical step in the innovation chain,” Arthurs said. “Many companies and many jobs in our field have come about because of SBIR/STTR support.”

SBIR and STTR programs, also known as America’s Seed Fund, are one of the largest sources of early-stage capital for technology commercialization in the United States.

About SPIE

SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics, an educational not-for-profit organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based science, engineering, and technology. The Society serves nearly 264,000 constituents from approximately 166 countries, offering conferences and their published proceedings, continuing education, books, journals, and the SPIE Digital Library. In 2015, SPIE provided more than $5.2 million in support of education and outreach programs.

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