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Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty

Representing the 5th District of Connecticut

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Esty Introduces Bill to Streamline National Science Foundation Grants Application Process

October 31, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.– Today, Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) introduced H.R. 7094, the Get to Yes or No Faster Act. The bill, which was the result of a collaboration with Esty’s STEM Advisory Board, would direct the National Science Foundation (NSF) to research methods that will decrease the workload for applicants and accelerate the decision-making process for awarding grants under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Moreover, this bill would direct NSF to report to Congress on how it can improve its grants application process. Esty introduced this bill with Republican Rep. John Moolenaar (MI-4). 

Currently, first-time applicants for NSF SBIR/STTR proposals are advised to start their applications six to eight weeks before their application deadlines.  After the deadline date, it may take an additional six months for applicants to learn whether or not their proposals have been accepted and they will be awarded funding. 

“Navigating a convoluted federal grant application process is not something entrepreneurs should worry about when they have a business to run.  Red tape in the grant application process deters some of the growth and new opportunities we are looking to create in Connecticut. With the Get to Yes or No Faster Act, we are taking an important step toward streamlining and improving the federal grant application process so that we may not only continue to invest in rising entrepreneurs and see a better value for our taxpayer dollars, but also assist business owners in getting their projects off the ground that much quicker,” said Esty.

“Entrepreneurs pursue many, many options to secure funding for their startups. It's tremendously beneficial to get to a ‘no’ fast to maintain critical focus on potential ‘yes’ outcomes," said Kelley T. Johnson, Founder and President of Doors to Explore, Inc. in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. 

"For decades US innovation led the world and could afford to have lengthy review periods.  As overseas competition in technology has increased in sophistication and speed, the US technology leadership gap has shrunk.  US companies cannot afford to wait around for a half a year on a funding decision.  The current review periods at NSF force US companies to sit on the sideline while overseas innovation continues to catch up.  The proposed bill will help US innovators stay engaged in technology advancement at a much faster pace--a crucial requirement in today's accelerating technology pace,” said Jerry Hollister, Principal Consultant at BBC Entrepreneurial Training and Consulting.

The Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program promotes small businesses and research institutions to work together through cooperative research and development (R&D). In comparison, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programs specializes in the partnership between small businesses and federal R&D projects that have the potential for commercialization. The SBIR/STTR programs, America’s largest seed fund for startups and small businesses, awards funding to U.S. businesses to commercialize their ideas and bring them to market.  Some of the accomplishments SBIR dollars have contributed to include: completion of the Human Genome Map, and thus the ability to sequence an entire human genome; technology developed for the Navy Seals, which has saved lives and costly equipment and; Qualcomm, a world leader in cell phone technology, which received NSF SBIR funding in its early years.  

Esty currently services on the Science, Space, and Technology Committee and the Subcommittee on Research and Technology.

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