The U.S. economy depends on small companies that grow big. Companies such as Apple, 23andMe, and Qualcomm have helped create new industries virtually from scratch over the past 40 years. But to realize their full potential, small start-ups must cross the so-called “valley of death”—that precarious stage when their technologies are not yet perfected, investors are still skittish, and customers are scarce.
As Rob Rozansky and Rob Atkinson write in The Hill, there is a federal program devoted to helping them make this passage: the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. But unless Congress strengthens SBIR, future Apples, 23andMes, and Qualcomms may fail to take off in the first place. Lawmakers must reform SBIR so it better embodies its slogan of “America’s Seed Fund.”