Finally, she said, intellectual property is “absolutely key”—a fact that is not widely appreciated. She praised the recommendation by the Department of Commerce that universities should start receiving IP rights. That “would be best from an investor’s perspective,” she concluded, while representing the kinds of practicalities that investors need to see.

James Turner

House Science Committee

Mr. Turner said he had only a few points to add to what Ms. Powers had said. First, he urged the study panel to take full advantage of its opportunity to do a thorough evaluation of the SBIR program. It is a rare luxury, he said, to spend two-and-a-half or three years on a report, unrestrained “by quarterly reports, annual appropriations, or a two-year election cycle. You have time actually to think about something, and I hope you’ll take the time to do it right.” He urged the panel to come up with a metric that could be used both by agency managers as the basis for operational improvements and by the Congress for legislative improvements.

Looking at all the Agencies

Second, he reaffirmed the importance of looking at all of the agencies, including those with relatively small SBIR programs. He said he had learned from a representative of the Department of Agriculture, for example, that its distribution of grants should be different from those of the DoD or NIH; for agriculture, it is very important that the SBIR program has a strong rural component. He also reminded the panel members that measures to solve problems in the largest agencies might be effective there, but turn out to distort or harm the programs of smaller agencies. “A cold in the Department of Defense can be pneumonia for the Departments of Commerce and Education,” he said. “So there is a reason to look at all of them in some way.”

He concluded by pointing out that the symposium had drawn excellent attendance from representatives of every sector participating in the SBIR program, including congressional staff, agency representatives, and the small business community. “You’re lucky to have a constituency that really cares,” he told the panel. “I think you can count on them to be supportive of this study and to participate as it goes along.”

• • •

Dr. Gansler closed the symposium by thanking the panel members and participants for taking part, and by expressing optimism about the success of the meetings to come.

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