Reauthorization of important small business seed funding programs passed the Senate yesterday, 10 days before they were set to expire. They’re heading for what should be an easy ride in the House, in a win for BIO members and advocacy efforts.

What they are: The Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) programs provide grants—typically between $250,000-$750,000—in the “seed funding” stage, when ideas need to prove their commercial value to draw investment. In 40 years, the programs have provided nearly 200,000 awards totaling more than $63.8 billion to U.S. small businesses.

The programs are set to expire Sept. 30—but were held up in the Senate Small Business Committee. The bill was altered to address concerns about China, and passed the Senate yesterday by unanimous consent.

BIO and member companies took action—with more than 450 letters sent to Members of Congress during the recent BIO Action campaign to advocate for reauthorization, and BIO pushing for action in advocacy activities on Capitol Hill, too.

Why it matters: The startups and small businesses who make up much of BIO’s membership rely on early-stage funding to get potentially life-saving ideas from the lab to the market—and scores of them have received grants through the SBIR/STTR programs, as we’ve reported in Bio.News.

What they’re saying: “SBIR has been critical and important to our development,” said Erika Smith, CEO of ReNetX Bio, speaking during a recent BIO webinar on the importance of reauthorization. “In 2013, we received our first SBIR funding to…see whether our therapy might be able to prevent or blindness and it was instrumental to the opportunity in our pipeline in ophthalmology and to help people who are blind.”

What’s next: The House is expected to act swiftly to approve the Senate-passed authorization of SBIR/STTR.

Find more at