AIA CEO: SBIR, SBTT Vital to Aerospace R&D


Reauthorization of government programs that enable small aerospace businesses to drive innovation and technology are important for our country’s future leadership and competitiveness, AIA President and CEO Marion Blakey said Thursday.

“The Small Business Innovative Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs are proven stimulus programs and consistently receive high marks across the board,” Blakey said in testimony to the House Contracting and Technology Committee. “They are the only game in town when it comes to government funding of early, innovative research and development for small businesses.”

More than six million scientists and engineers are self-employed or employed by small firms, representing 38 percent of all the scientists and engineers in America. SBIR and SSTR programs allow this huge pool of talent to develop the next-generation of technologies.

AIA counts among its members 175 small to medium-sized businesses that belong to the association’s Supplier Management Council and are critical partners for prime companies for sophisticated parts, subassemblies, subsystems and software. AIA estimates that more than 70 percent of the parts for a weapon system are typically supplied from outside sources to prime contractors.

Blakey made a number of recommendations in her testimony regarding SBIR and SSTR

  • Allow limited venture capital participation so long as safeguards ensure the integrity of the programs for small businesses.
  • Develop programs to bridge the gap between promising technologies and potential commercialization and use in the agency acquisition process.
  • Increase the contract award sizes and overall funding allocation percentage for the SBIR and STTR programs.
  • Reauthorize the SBIR program through September 30, 2022, to provide program continuity and provide an opportunity to evaluate results.

The testimony is available on AIA’s Web site at