May 19, 2023

Cortez Masto & Young Introduce Bipartisan Small Business Innovation Voucher Act

Washington, D.C.  – U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto and Todd Young (R-Ind.) reintroduced the bipartisan Small Business Innovation Voucher Act to ensure America’s small businesses can compete in the 21st century economy. This legislation would create a voucher program at the Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide grants for small businesses to partner with institutions of higher education to conduct research and development. This would allow America’s small business owners to leverage the cutting-edge research methods, laboratory space, and academic expertise needed to grow their businesses and compete in our increasingly interconnected global economy.

“Nevada’s small businesses and institutes of higher education are driving our economy and we need to make it easier for them to grow,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “Supporting our entrepreneurs creates jobs, strengthens our economy, and builds a better future for all us who call Nevada home.”

“Our Small Business Innovation Voucher program will build on Indiana's existing voucher program to facilitate public-private partnerships between small businesses and our world-renowned research institutions. Giving Hoosier entrepreneurs expanded access to world-class lab space and scientists will help drive innovation and enhance economic opportunity across Indiana," said Senator Young.

The Small Business Innovation Voucher Act would allow small businesses to work with any institution of higher education to compete for grants to facilitate public-private cooperation on research and development (R&D) and commercialization of new technologies. Specifically, the voucher program would:

  • Provide grants of between $15,000 and $75,000 for projects with a high likelihood of creating a novel technology or that would not be completed without the grant money.
  • Prioritize underserved states and markets, including rural areas, businesses owned by low-income individuals, minorities, women, veterans, and servicemembers.
  • Require reports from the grant recipients on use of funds and reports to Congress from the SBA on program effectiveness.
  • Authorize $10 million per year for the program.

Senator Cortez Masto has been a strong advocate for small businesses. She has introduced legislation to protect small businesses from expensive data breaches and cyber-attacks and to help small businesses whose operations are harmed by wildfire smoke. Last year, the administration answered her call to extend the deferment period for small businesses to repay loans to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, and she has led legislation to streamline the EIDL program and combat fraud.