Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Color of Money

DefenseSolutions.gov is a relatively new website described as "The U.S. Department of Defense New Idea Portal". Thanks to the SBIR Coach, where I first read about this resource. This morning, I received an email notification of their latest update, removing some fulfilled requirements, and adding a few others.

Of note was the following statement regarding why some worthy endeavors were not funded:
... because DefenseSolutions.gov is a research-oriented endeavor, we could not fund some good ideas because they required little or no research to complete the associated development. This is a legal, "color" of money restraint. Our appropriated funds are designated for research and development. By law, we cannot spend them for anything else.

Whatever legal restraints exist on their funding ought naturally to be part of SBIR as well. Small Business... Innovation... Research. The argument I have been making all along is that SBIR represents a pot of funds for early stage research. Without a funding source for independent researchers, innovation suffers, simply because established researchers affiliated with established institutions, have established expectations and established assumptions, regarding established practice.

If SBIR fades as a resource for seed funding, what alternatives exist for independent researchers, entrepreneurs, and small businesses to pursue early stage R&D? Will organizations like the National Association of Seed and Venture Funds step up to the plate? Will agencies, like the DoD continue to provide alternative sources, like DefenseSolutions.gov? What other resources are out there?

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