Kennedy, Risch reintroduce bipartisan bill to boost R&D grants

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and fellow lawmakers in reintroducing bipartisan legislation to improve underserved states’ ability to successfully compete for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) awards.

“States like Louisiana use FAST grants to help small businesses succeed, but the program’s assistance is not reaching communities that rely on these resources to spark innovation. The FAST Fix Act would prioritize applicants in historically underserved areas in Louisiana and elsewhere. I’m proud to partner with Sen. Risch to see this through,” said Kennedy.

“The FAST Partnership Program is not sufficiently focused to reach the underserved states it’s intended to benefit. The FAST Fix Act will make commonsense changes to the program application process to ensure research and development grants reach states like Idaho to galvanize our continued growth and success,” said Risch.

The FAST Fix Act would reform the Small Business Administration’s Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program to encourage federal research and development grants to be awarded to small businesses and universities in states that have historically lacked SBIR and STTR awards. This bill would encourage more awards to commercialize ideas, compete in the global marketplace and create local jobs.

Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) also co-sponsored the legislation. 

Background: The FAST Partnership Program provides one-year funding to organizations to develop SBIR/STTR outreach and training programs to help facilitate more awards in their state. Special consideration is intended for entities in states that have historically lacked awards. But under the one-size-fits-all application process, the federal government gives equal consideration to all applicants for the FAST program, regardless of their SBIR/STTR award history. As a result, the program is not penetrating the very states it is intended to serve.

The FAST Fix Act would increase competition for FAST grants in each state and give priority to applicants located in historically underperforming states to ensure more SBIR/STTR awards are distributed to underserved areas.