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May 22, 2017 | By Troy Carter

R&D advocates cite TechLink studies to Congressional panel

SBIR program called 'best small business program in the history of the country'

News Article Image of R&D advocates cite TechLink studies to Congressional panel
Joe Shepard, associate administrator of the federal Small Business Administration Associate Administrator for the Office of Investment and Innovation, testifies before a joint hearing of the House Science and Small Business committees on May 4. Photo courtesy Alicia Criscuolo/House Science Committee.

Small business advocates pointed to economic studies by TechLink while asking Congress to continue supporting federal research and development policies.

TechLink’s assessment of the Air Force’s $4 billion investment in the Small Business Innovation Research and related Small Business Technology Transfer program from 2000 to 2013 showed $47.9 billion in new economic activity, including $14.7 billion in sales of new products and 125 spinoff companies.

Ronald Shroder, president of Frontier Technology, a high-tech company in Ohio, told a joint meeting of the House Science and House Small Business Committees on May 4 that the Air Force study showed “incredible metrics that make this program probably the best small business program in the history of the country.”

The SBIR program–created in 1982–is funded by a small percentage of the research budgets of 11 federal agencies. The competitive awards provide small high-tech companies with seed funding to develop technologies or products to meet agency needs.

A related follow-on study by TechLink’s research team based at Montana State University showed the Navy’s $2.3 billion in SBIR awards spurred $44.3 billion in new business over the same period.

Joe Shepard, associate administrator of the federal Small Business Administration, also cited the studies in his testimony thanking the committees for reauthorizing the programs in 2016.

“We know these programs have a powerful and positive impact on our economy,” Shepard said. “Studies from the Air Force and Navy have shown that a relatively small investment made through the SBIR program results in new economic activity and the creation of many high-paying jobs each year – a worthy return on investment.”

TechLink’s Executive Director Will Swearingen, and SBIR program leader Ray Friesenhahn, were given “Champion of Small Business Innovation” awards by the Small Business Technology Council for their leadership and authorship of the studies.

Now, TechLink’s research team is conducting a third SBIR/STTR economic impact study that will include all branches of the Department of Defense. It is scheduled for completion in 2018.

“No one has ever conducted a SBIR study of this size and depth before, but our team has incomparable experience from the two prior studies that have set the precedent for this,” Friesenhahn said.

Troy Carter can be reached at or 406-994-7798.