Sens. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, and Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, reintroduced the Support Startup Businesses Act, which would allow awardees of federal research and development grants to use a portion of that funding to create a startup business.

Specifically, the bill authorizes Small Business Innovation Research program awardees to allocate up to 5 percent of their awards for activities that are critical to building businesses, including services such as market validation, intellectual property protection, market research and business model development. Currently, the SBIR program offers very limited financial support to awardees for commercialization activities.

“Startups are the engine of job creation in the U.S., but the rate of startup creation is well below historical norms,” said Coons. “This bill will provide our world-class scientists and engineers with the support they need to translate their cutting-edge research into new startup companies that fuel economic growth. I’m proud to work with Sen. Gardner to introduce this bipartisan legislation.”

Coordinated by the Small Business Administration, the SBIR program is one of the premier federal programs for fostering innovation. Through a competitive awards-based program, SBIR encourages domestic small businesses to explore their technological potential by engaging in R&D that has the potential for commercialization.

The Support Startup Businesses Act would allow SBIR awardees to use up to 5 percent of their grants for startup-related commercialization activities, and would require annual reporting by awardees on startup-related commercialization activities.

The bill has been endorsed by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, State Science and Technology Institute, National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer, Third Way and the University City Science Center.