03 Sep Feingold announces small business innovation initiative
Milwaukee, Wis. – U.S. Senator Russ Feingold has launched an economic development initiative that would make more small business innovation and technology grants available to small businesses that develop water quality technology.
The measure, which will be part of a Senate bill Feingold plans to introduce, is part of his E4 initiative, will focus on boosting small business innovation, supporting job growth in the emerging “green” energy sector, strengthening workforce development, and building new education partnerships.
Overall, Feingold would increase federal funding for small business innovation research and technology transfer programs, prioritizing work in energy, water, transportation, and domestic security – all areas where Wisconsin has a strategic advantage.
The senator announced the initiative during a visit to Procorp Enterprises, a Milwaukee-area small business specializing in sustainable water and wastewater treatment solutions. He was joined there by University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Chancellor Carlos Santiago. Water quality is a research focus of the UWM’s Great Lakes Water Institute.
Feingold said Milwaukee has the potential to be the “Silicon Valley” of water technology. “Wisconsin and the Milwaukee area in particular have unique strengths that offer potential for economic development and job growth, and our small businesses are the engines that can drive that growth,” he said in a prepared statement. “The federal government should be helping small businesses harness their innovative strengths to grow, create more jobs and address our emerging national challenges.”
The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs were established to promote small business innovation and commercialization prospects as well as to enhance opportunities for women-owned and socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses. The programs allocate a small percentage of federal agency research and development budgets to small businesses.
The Feingold bill, which is called the “Strengthening Our Economy Through Small Business Innovation Act of 2008,” would do the following:
- Reauthorize the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs for an additional 14-year period.
- Increase federal R&D funding for small businesses over a three-year period from 2.5 percent to 10 percent of federal funding for the SBIR program, and from 0.3 percent to 1 percent for the STTR program.
- Increase the levels of Phase I and phase II awards beyond adjustments for inflation to $300,000 and $2.2 million, respectively, to strengthen project commercialization prospects.