Act Seeks to Cut Strings Between U.S. Small Businesses and China, Russia, and Other Countries of Concern
Small businesses that rely on the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs to fund their research and development projects were left on the edge of their seats this September as the reauthorization of those programs hung in the balance. Fortunately, on September 30, 2022—the date on which the programs were set to expire—President Biden signed the SBIR and STTR Extension Act of 2022 (the Act). The Act, which reauthorizes the SBIR and STTR programs until September 30, 2025, is the result of several months of protracted negotiations in which Congress questioned whether the programs provide enough protection against ties between China and other foreign countries of concern and program awardees. These concerns were amplified following reports that state-sponsored Chinese firms were targeting companies funded by the programs and, in some cases, that China was the true beneficiary of the awards, not the United States. This prompted intense scrutiny of the programs, which are intended to fund US startups and small businesses to stimulate technological innovation and meet federal research and development needs, and placed the reauthorization of these programs in jeopardy. Ultimately, however, Congress was able to reach an agreement to reauthorize the programs, but not without some major national security reforms to ensure that American intellectual property remains protected from foreign influence.