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December 2012 Public Policy News

December 27, 2012: SBA Issues Final Rule on SBIR/STTR Size Standard Regulations: The US Small Business Administration (SBA) published a final rule to amend regulations governing eligibility for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs and to implement provisions of the SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2011. The Reauthorization was included in the FY12 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which reauthorized the SBIR Program for six years and now allows small firms that are majority-owned by venture capital operating companies (VCOCs), hedge funds, or private equity firms to compete for SBIR grants. The SBA solicited comments on the proposed rule and then published their final rule based on evaluation of the comments, the law, and SBA protocol. The Domestic Small Business definition spurred controversy because many in the SBIR community interpreted this as opening the door to ownership of a small business concern by a foreign and/or non-small business entity. As a result, the terminology and the issue has been deleted. You can read the final rule here. This final rule becomes effective January 28, 2013.

December 21, 2012: SPIE leaders seek support for U.S. National Photonics Initiative: SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs attended a briefing at the National Science Foundation today, where he joined with industry leaders in optics and photonics to call for the creation of a National Photonics Initiative, a key recommendation that came out of the "Optics and Photonics: Essential Technologies for our Nation" report. Leaders from SPIE are part of an ad hoc intersociety committee which as been working for the establishment of the NPI since the report was released. Their talks at the event illustrated how the NPI would help strengthen the economy, create jobs, protect U.S. competitiveness in the global market, and enable new solutions for challenges in healthcare, sustainable energy, manufacturing, defense and community security, and communications. You can read more about the briefing here.

December 12, 2012: SPIE signs onto letter urging US Congress/President to avoid fiscal cliff and support science and technology to strengthen economy: SPIE and other science, engineering, and STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) organizations are urging the President and Congress to find a balanced, bipartisan plan including tax and entitlement reform to avoid the fiscal cliff -- one that ensures strong support for economy-building science and technology enterprise. Economic growth in the industrialized world since World War II has been driven by innovation and technological progress, the letter to Congressional leaders and President Obama says. Besides spawning the Global Positioning System, the laser, and the Internet, technology has enabled countless medical advances that have helped save the lives of millions of heart disease, cancer and diabetes patients, among others. Almost every national priority -- from health and defense, to agriculture and conservation -- relies on science and engineering, the letter notes. You can read SPIE's statement on this issue here.