The Senate extended two funding programs for small businesses carrying out innovative technology research on the final day of the lame duck session last week, but their fate in the House remains undecided.
The Senate provided funding for two National Science Foundation programs: the Small Business Innovation Research Small Business Technology Transfer programs. Under the Senate bill, they will be funded for another eight years, until 2018. Until now, the two programs have mostly relied on short-term funding.
The financing will go toward entrepreneurs in areas such as nanotechnology. However, the Senate and the House differ on the amount of funding that would be taken from the 11 different agencies supporting the program.
The Senate version, which passed by unanimous consent last week, would increase the “tax” on the agencies from the current level of 2.5 percent for the SBIR program to 3.5 percent by 2021, and from 0.3 percent for the SBTT program to 0.6 percent by 2016, according to Science. The House version of the bill would let the amounts grow with the size of the budget.
The two chambers also disagree on how much funding should go to venture capital-backed companies. The bill went to the House on the final day it was in session, and it will need to be taken up again in the next Congress.