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GAO finds new Air Force SBIR process increases participation and geographic distribution of awards

A new open topic approach used by the U.S. Air Force in issuing Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) awards coincided with an overall increase in the agency’s SBIR/STTR participation figures and proposal processing times, according to a recent federal analysis. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that using open topics for soliciting Phase I proposals, which the Air Force implemented in 2018, has largely displaced the agency’s conventional process of offering very specific research topics. The open approach was found to be more effective in attracting new companies to federal contracting and issuing awards quickly. GAO found nearly 43 percent of the 1,001 open topics awardees had no prior federal contract experience compared to only 14 percent of the 771 conventional awardees being new to federal procurement. Additionally, GAO reports that an April 2021 study found that after receiving an open topic award these awardees were more likely to obtain further funding from other sources.

Recent Research: Access to information is key to SBIR effectiveness

Accelerators, incubators and entrepreneurial assistance programs work to ensure their startups understand their product’s market competition, customers, and supply chain. As it turns out, that’s also good advice for small research-based firms trying to move from SBIR proof-of-concept funding to securing the larger Phase II awards. A survey of approximately 250 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program awardees by researchers finds market information from suppliers, customers, and competitors to be key for small entrepreneurial firms to increase publicly funded research and development (R&D) effectiveness.

OMB’s FY 2024 budget guidance for federal agencies adds R&D priorities, specificity

The White House Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Science and Technology Policy jointly issued a memorandum to all federal agencies outlining an expanded list of research and development priorities. The document is intended to guide all executive branch offices and agencies as they put together their budget requests for fiscal year 2024. Nearly twice as long as the Biden administration's priority memo last year, the updated list includes more priorities and more details drilling deeper into the top concerns.

Senate Dems propose increased innovation funding for FY 2023

With the fiscal year coming to a close and the U.S. Senate having yet to advance any appropriations bills for the next year, the Senate Democrats have released their proposals for FY 2023 funding levels. Due to the potential for substantial changes when the final FY 2023 budget is passed, this article only covers specific funding levels that are a high priority for the tech-based economic development (TBED) field. Funding levels from the House Committee on Appropriations for FY 2023 and FY 2022 enacted amounts also are provided in parentheses for comparison purposes.

Recent survey explores perceptions of higher education

The recently published, 2022 edition of New America’s annual survey on American perceptions of higher education, Varying Degrees, includes findings that should be of interest – and potential concern – for the TBED community. The report includes updated findings on American perceptions of the value, funding, accountability, and admissions for higher education and perceptions of current financial security. It also reveals significant differences in perceptions of higher education based on respondents’ political affiliations.

EDA announces 32 winners of $500 million Good Jobs Challenge

Thirty two industry-led workforce training partnerships from across the country were announced as the grant winners of the $500 million Good Jobs Challenge by the U.S. Economic Development Administration. Selected from 509 proposals, the regional partnerships are focused on removing barriers to training and are expected to increase more equitable labor participation with a focus on 15 key industries.

Nine additional SSBCI state plans approved

The U.S. Department of the Treasury announced nine additional states whose SSBCI plans have been approved: Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana, Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Vermont. This is in addition to the five states approved earlier this year: Hawaii, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan and West Virginia. The state plans for the awards will support underserved businesses, innovation programs, investing for startups and more, detailed below.