BIO’s Alan Eisenberg advocates SBIR grant eligibility for companies majority owned by venture capitalists

Since the early 1980s, the Federal Government has provided Small Business Innovation Research –or SBIR—grants to fund research and development projects. In 2003, the Small Business Administration ruled that companies that were majority owned by venture capital firms would no longer be eligible for such funding.

The biotech industry and its supporters complained that the policy was choking off biomedical innovation, and now a bill that would restore eligibility of companies whose majority owners are VCs is before Congress.

The Office of Management and Budget, National Small Business Association and Small Business Technology Council have come out against the legislation, arguing that it would allow large businesses and universities in the door and deny funding for many deserving recipients. SBIR grants represent only 2.5 percent of Federal research dollars, they argue, and independently owned, non-dominant players should be entitled to all of it.

I spoke today with Alan Eisenberg, Executive Vice President for Emerging Companies and Business Development at BIO, the trade association of the biotechnology industry, to get his perspective.

October 31, 2007

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