I have had quite a few questions recently on Technical and Business Assistance (TABA) funds related to what they are, why they might be used for and who can apply for them. First of all TABA stands for Technical And Business Assistance and it was created by the 2019 John McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) as a way to help small businesses commercialize technologies coming out of the SBIR/STTR program. In the past, there had been a few agencies that offered some limited help to SBIR/STTR awardees by utilizing vendors selected by the agency in pre-defined programs. The National Science Foundation was a good example of this as they assigned a "commercialization specialization" firm to each Phase I awardee to help them formulate a commercialization plan in their Phase II proposals. NSF paid the "commercialization specialization" company for helping each awardee so there was no cost for this service to the awardee.
The 2019 NDAA authorized a specific amount of TABA help for Phase I awardees (up to $6,500) and a specific amount for Phase II (up to $50,000) . These funds are in addition to the SBIR/STTR award amount and will not reduce the amount of maximum award for the technical effort in the SBIR/STTR. The evaluation of TABA funds also will not affect the selection criteria for the merit of the SBIR award, it is evaluated separately. The act also allowed the awardee to choose a firm (to be subsequently approved by the agency) to do this work, rather than depend upon the agency to assign someone to work with (although the awardee can accept the agency's selection for a TABA vendor). This directive from the NDAA was incorporated into the Small Business Administration's (SBA) Policy Directive for the SBIR/STTR program in 2019, and again in 2020, and most likely will be in the SBA Policy Directive again in 2021. The 2019 NDAA authorized the SBIR/STTR program funding through September of 2022, which is also the period for the TABA funds authorization. The SBIR/STTR program will need to be re-authorized by Congress prior to September 2022 and it is expected that the TABA funds will be part of this renewal. The NDAA did request a report be submitted to congress on the success and effectiveness of the TABA funds to help evaluate the usefulness of the program in the future.Read the Full Blog Here