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LCA and Partner Organizations Send Letter to Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship About SBIR Grant Requirements

September 17, 2009 [Washington, DC] -- Today LCA joined with three dozen partner organizations in advocating that the current standards for SBIR grant awards not adversely impact small start up biotech and medical device companies.  LCA its partner organizations believe that such restrictions have limited promising new research that could improve the lives of people suffering from many debilitating diseases, including lung cancer. 

The SBIR program awards federal research and development grants to small-business applicants with the goal of commercializing successful, innovative research.   

Specifically, SBA regulations now require, to be eligible for a grant, a small company to be at least 51 percent owned by one or more "individuals."  The SBA has re-interpreted "individuals" to exclude venture capital companies, thereby disqualifying many bioscience and device companies from receiving these important grants.  For the first 20 years of the SBIR program, the term "individuals" was interpreted to allow venture capital-backed biotech and device companies to fully participate in the SBIR program.  

Venture capital-backed research companies represent a vital tool in the discovery and adaptation of new diagnostic devices, treatments and therapies for those suffering from any number of diseases, including lung cancer.  By restricting SBIR grants to non-venture capital-backed companies (51% ownership by one or more “individuals”) patients are being denied potentially live saving products.   

The SBIR Reauthorization legislation now in the Senate caps the amount of funding that NIH and other agencies can award to venture capital-backed small businesses.  Such a restriction is unnecessary and undermines the merit-based nature of the peer-review grant process at the participating agencies.   

To read the entire letter, click here.

Lung Cancer Alliance will continue to monitor the SBIR Reauthorization legislation.