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12:00 AM
 | 
Feb 14, 2005
 |  BioCentury  |  Politics, Policy & Law

Cracking the SBIR dam

The biotech industry soon will have a chance to persuade lawmakers to overturn the Small Business Administration's policy of denying Small Business Innovation Research awards to companies that are majority-owned by venture capital firms.

The Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship plans to hold a hearing within a month that could pave the way for legislation. The Biotechnology Industry Organization is marshaling new data to support its contention that SBIR eligibility criteria exclude the most promising life sciences companies and run counter to congressional intent.

Like many conflicts over government policy, the SBIR issue hinges on a definition. The grants are available to small businesses, which the law defines as entities with fewer than 500 employees that are majority-owned by U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens. In January 2001, SBA announced that citizens or resident aliens means individuals, and that companies that are...

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