Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) introduced the 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 federal 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 compete in our increasingly interconnected global economy and advance the commercialization of new technologies.
“In order to invest in America’s economic future, we must focus on our small businesses,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “Allowing our small business owners to compete in harnessing the ground-breaking inventions and technologies of tomorrow requires us to ensure that we provide our local entrepreneurs with access to capital and resources. By funding partnerships between small businesses and higher education institutions for inventive projects, this legislation helps level the playing field while fueling innovation and economic growth in Nevada, and across the country.”
“As the son of a small businessman, I value the essential role that small firms play in ensuring America remains the world’s leader in commercializing cutting-edge technologies. 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 brilliant scientists will help drive innovation and enhance economic opportunity across Indiana,” said Senator Young.
“Research and development drive American progress, particularly when private enterprises and academia work together. Helping small businesses in Delaware and across the country invest in the R&D they need to grow has been a top priority for me since my first day in the Senate,” said Senator Coons. “This bill supports small businesses by directly funding the research partnerships that connect universities and national labs to private sector innovators. Decisive, targeted support like this helps keep the American innovation economy vibrant and strong.”
The Small Business Innovation Voucher Act would provide small businesses with additional research and development (R&D) resources by allowing small businesses to work with any institution of higher education to compete for grants to facilitate public-private cooperation on 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.
Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressmen Jason Crow (D-Colo.-06) and Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.-02).
Senator Cortez Masto has been a leading advocate for legislation that encourages the development and use of innovative smart technologies that address the challenges confronting America. In the 116th Congress, the Senator has introduced legislation as part of her “Innovation State” initiative, bills to strengthen Nevada’s pioneering leadership in emerging technologies and to create jobs.