While many high risk small businesses have trouble finding funding, many would think that companies that work with the government, or the CDC, or other big-time national conglomerate would have an easier time. Wrong! Advocates for small businesses and the U.S. research community are once again at loggerheads over pending legislation to expand a multibillion-dollar federal program that promotes commercialization of academic research. It is shaping up as another long, hard fight. Science lobbyists are playing catch-up but have time on their side, while small business leaders say they do not understand why more academics are not in their corner.

It isn’t just the academic crowd that isn’t supporting their need, but rather the majority of the funding crowd. While some “high risk” merchants have cash advance programs, this isn’t really up the alley of the amount – and extent – of what is needed. The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, begun in 1982, is funded by taxing the research budgets of 11 federal agencies. This year, for example, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will spend almost $900 million of its $32 billion budget on SBIR and a smaller, related program called Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR). The main problem is the amount of funding that is needed to operate each of these programs – and that the current levels of funding available cannot sustain all who want or need the funds. Some, of course, are more valuable to us, but the others deserve funding as well.

For small business funding needs, there are other options, but they typically are not worth the time and effort to look into. Crowdfunding and grants probably would not cover the financial need. Other options, like a cash advance from a merchant account provider, can come closer, but this works only if the small business or research firm has a way to pay it back – and that comes from sales. This is possible for some, for example for those sell merchandise. But the main problem is still how the government seems to be slighting the scientific research industry. Only time will tell how this is fixed, but this should be something that all merchants keep their eye on for the time being.

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