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Houlahan, Balderson Reintroduce Legislation to Accelerate Small Business Technologies and Job Growth

Bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers reintroduce small business bill during National Small Business Week.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representatives Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) and Troy Balderson (R-OH) reintroduced legislation to accelerate the funding and commercialization of vital small business technologies. This comes during the Small Business Administration’s National Small Business Week. The Research Advancing to Market Production (RAMP) for Innovators Act would support American innovation by expediting the application processes for two federal small business programs, making small business federal grantees eligible for fast-tracked U.S. Patent Office services, and improving technical and business assistance. The two programs — Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) — are not just good for small businesses but also provide taxpayers with a good return on investment. The programs running through the Department of Defense, for example, generate $22 in economic activity for every $1 spent. A companion bill was introduced in the Senate by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Marco Rubio (R-FL). 

“We have amazing small businesses across our Commonwealth and country, but without some support from the federal government, some of these businesses may struggle to thrive and survive,” said Houlahan. “We must continue to provide essential support to our innovative entrepreneurs to ensure they can succeed. The RAMP for Innovators Act will provide our small business owners access to resources to implement and commercialize new ideas, as well as faster access to capital and better protection of their intellectual property. As an entrepreneur myself, I know there are many challenges to operationalizing a great idea to becoming a salable and marketable product, so I’m proud to lead on this bipartisan, bicameral legislation to support small business owners.”  

“America has long been the world’s leader in research and development of new tech innovations. The vulnerabilities of supply chain disruptions and over-reliance on foreign producers has led to a renewed bipartisan commitment to reclaiming our role in production too,” said Balderson. “I am proud to join my colleagues, at this critical moment for our country, to reintroduce the RAMP for Innovators Act which ensures our best and brightest minds in the tech sector have the resources necessary to bring new concepts to market and in-turn create jobs and begin production here in America.” 

“The RAMP for Innovators Act will drive job growth and strengthen economic security for states like Delaware whose economies are strengthened by the innovation, creativity and cutting-edge research of small businesses,” said Coons. “As a member of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, I am glad to reintroduce this bipartisan legislation that makes it easier for small businesses and startups access the technical and business support to commercialize their brilliant ideas and keep America competitive and secure in the 21st century.” 

“The pandemic highlighted America’s supply chain vulnerabilities and our overreliance on countries like China. It is more important than ever that we harness the strength and ingenuity of small businesses across the country to scale up our domestic manufacturing and innovation. This legislation would help startups and other small business innovators access federal research and development dollars, protect their intellectual property, and commercialize,” said Rubio. 

The RAMP for Innovators Act builds on the success of two well-regarded, competitive federal programs for developing innovation: the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology (STTR) programs. The two programs are managed by the U.S. Small Business Administration and are often called ‘America’s Seed Fund.’ 

The RAMP for Innovators Act would: 

  • Accelerate the evaluation timeline for SBIR/STTR applicants and include technology commercial potential in grant decisions 
  • Expand the allowable uses of grant funds, including allowing their use to bring new products or services to market through production, distribution, marketing, sales, or other means 
  • Reduce the average time to go from research project to marketable product by streamlining the application process 
  • Provide agencies with a fast-track option for qualified projects that demonstrate commercial potential 
  • Provide reliable technical assistance and support to grantees to bring their new products or services to market across all agencies 
  • Provide accelerated patent pipelines for SBIR/STTR grantees 

This bill has been endorsed by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the Small Business Technology Council, and the University City Science Center. 

“ITIF supports RAMP for Innovators, the Research Advancing to Market Production for Innovators Act, which will further bolster the commercialization potential of SBIR/STTR programs through improvements such as making commercialization potential a stronger consideration in project selection, clarifying that all awardees may use a share of Phase I and II funds for commercially oriented activities, and supporting the ability of innovators to secure intellectual property rights underpinning their inventions through stronger linkages with the PTO,” said Dr. Rob Atkinson, President of ITIF.  

"The University City Science Center heartily endorses the Research Advancing to Market Production (RAMP) for Innovators Act introduced by Senators Coons and Rubio and Representatives Houlahan and Balderson. This legislation would codify language that has already been signed into law to ensure that commercialization is central to the goals of SBIR and STTR. The RAMP for Innovators Act fulfills the mission of the 2016 SBIR/STTR recommendations from the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE) at the Department of Commerce. I was honored to serve as a member of NACIE during this time and believe these recommendations are necessary to fulfill our commercialization needs in this country," said Tiffany Wilson, CEO of the University City Science Center.  

“Several aspects of this bill, including allowing patent expenses and providing business assistance, are commendable as they would pave the way for start-ups to mature and commercialize their innovative technologies,” said Sridhar Kota, Founder and CEO of FlexSys Inc.  

Bill text is available here. Full list of support is available here. A one-pager is available here 

Houlahan is an Air Force veteran, an engineer, a serial entrepreneur, an educator, and a nonprofit leader. She represents Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District, which encompasses Chester County and southern Berks County. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. She is the recipient of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Abraham Lincoln Leadership for America Award which “recognizes members who demonstrate the bipartisan leadership and constructive governing necessary to move our country forward” and the Congressional Management Foundation’s 2022 Democracy Award for best Constituent Services in Congress.