Um... doesn't SBIR do that? Don't get me wrong: it's an interesting proposal, and certainly worth consideration as part of the arsenal the government uses to stimulate innovation. But... I'm not sure I see how this would attract "small entrepreneurial firms," at least those without another significant source of funding.
Science and R&D take time, and effort, and creativity, and persistence, and a willingness to endure lots and lots of failure before arriving at a novel solution to a long-standing problem. Thing is, small entrepreneurial firms still need to make payroll. At present, there are two ways to be an innovative entrepreneur:
- Be independently wealthy, and therefore afford the leisure to pursue your passions.
- Obtain funding from an outside source to cover the essentials (mortgage and utilities and food) long enough to make a breakthrough that's self-sustaining.
Then, there's SBIR! Now, just why would we think that shifting the focus of SBIR away from early-stage seed funding would be good for innovation?
And just why is OSTP Director John Holdren writing to the Chair of the Senate Small Business Committee to argue against increasing the allocation percentage for SBIR by contending President Obama "is committed to increasing federal investment in R&D ... which will increase the total funding available to the SBIR/STTR programs" and that the current pathetically low allocation of 2.5% of extramural R&D funding from qualifying agencies to small businesses (which incidentally account for the overwhelming majority of new jobs created in this country) therefore provides "a sufficient floor for agencies to invest in innovation from small businesses”?
Is that where the Administration thinks innovative entrepreneurs belong: on the floor?