The House passed HR 2965, "The Enhancing Small Business Research and Innovation Act of 2009", introduced by Rep. Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania on 06/19/2009, on July 8, 2009 after adopting an amendment in the nature of a substitute and sent it on to the Senate for consideration.
Both HR 2965 and it’s Senate companion S. 1233 had the same purpose, to reauthorize and expand the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs ( S. Rept. 111-37 gives a brief description and history of these programs) which are scheduled to be expire at the end of this month. These programs were designed to direct some of the federal R&D funds to small businesses, including those involved in nanotechnology and nanoindustry.
On Monday July 13, 2009, the Senate voted to amend S. 1233 by adopting an amendment in the nature of a substitute (this means, for anyone not familiar with the term, that the language of the bill after the enacting clause – "Be in enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in Congress assembled" – is stripped out and entirely new language substituted in its place). After adopting another amendment of a perfecting nature, the Senate proceeded to call up HR 2965 and proceeded to amend it by substituting the language of S. 1233 and returning it to the Senate Calendar, to be called up again at a later date. For the amended version of HR 2965, look here.
In both versions of HR 2965, nanotechnology is covered under Title II. However, there are significant differences. As passed by the House, the text read as follows:
TITLE II–COMMERCIALIZATION ACTIVITIES AND RESEARCH TOPICS DESERVING SPECIAL CONSIDERATION.
Sec. 203. Nanotechnology-related research topics.
SEC. 203. NANOTECHNOLOGY-RELATED RESEARCH TOPICS.
(a) SBIR- Section 9(g)(3) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 638(g)(3)), as amended, is further amended–
(1) in subparagraph (D) by striking `or’ at the end;
(2) in subparagraph (E) by adding `or’ at the end; and
(3) by adding at the end the following:
`(F) the national nanotechnology strategic plan required under section 2(c)(4) of the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act (15 U.S.C. 7501(c)(4)) and in subsequent reports issued by the National Science and Technology Council Committee on Technology, focusing on areas of nanotechnology identified in such plan;’.
(b) STTR- Section 9(o)(3) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 638(o)(3)) is amended–
(1) in subparagraph (A) by striking `or’ at the end;
(2) in subparagraph (B) by adding `or’ at the end; and
(3) by adding at the end the following:
`(C) by the national nanotechnology strategic plan required under section 2(c)(4) of the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act (15 U.S.C. 7501(c)(4)) and in subsequent reports issued by the National Science and Technology Council Committee on Technology, focusing on areas of nanotechnology identified in such plan;’.
As amended and passed by the Senate, the text of the bill now reads as follows:
In the Senate of the United States,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
July 13, 2009.
Resolved, That the bill from the House of Representatives (H.R. 2965) entitled `An Act to amend the Small Business Act with respect to the Small Business Innovation Research Program and the Small Business Technology Transfer Program, and for other purposes.’, do pass with the following
Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert:
This Act may be cited as the `SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2009′.
TITLE II–OUTREACH AND COMMERCIALIZATION INITIATIVES
Sec. 206. Nanotechnology initiative.
SEC. 206. NANOTECHNOLOGY INITIATIVE.
(a) In General- Section 9 of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 638), as amended by this Act, is amended by adding at the end the following:
(ff) Nanotechnology Initiative- Each Federal agency participating in the SBIR or STTR program shall encourage the submission of applications for support of nanotechnology related projects to such program.’.
(b) Sunset- Effective October 1, 2014, subsection (ff) of the Small Business Act, as added by subsection (a) of this section, is repealed.
S. Rept. 111-37 has an explanation of section 206:
Recognizing that nanotechnology has the potential to revolutionize our way of life and to make a significant contribution to our economy moving forward, section 206 of the bill encourages the submission of applications for support of nanotechnology-related projects. This provision was carried over from the 110th Congress and came from S. 3274, the `National Nanotechnology Initiative Amendments Act of 2008,’ sponsored by Senator Kerry and cosponsored by Senator Snowe. Nanotechnology involves the understanding and control of matter at scales between 1 and 100 nanometers and includes nanoscale science, technology, and engineering. In the eight years since the creation of the National Nanotechnology Initiative, it has become clear that our ability to manipulate, engineer, and manufacture nanoparticles provides unlimited potential for innovation and growth throughout our economy. For instance, an estimated $50 billion in products worldwide incorporated nanotechnology in 2006, and that figure has been projected by some to reach $2.6 trillion over the next eight years. From technologies to improve the capabilities of our military to life-changing medical devices, nanotechnology has demonstrated its unique ability to break barriers and to expand the realm of what is possible. The Committee believes that it is important for the federal government to encourage the development of nanotechnology-related projects and that the SBIR and STTR programs are suitable mechanisms for furthering progress toward this goal. This provision sunsets after five years, because the Committee believes that emphasis on certain sectors should not exist in perpetuity but, rather, should be updated to be relevant to current needs and challenges.
Having been amended and passed by the Senate, the HR 2965 will be returned to the House for another vote. There is the possibilty that the bill may wind up in a conference committee. We’ll continue to monitor the bill’s progress.