Innovation and Economic Growth

An article in our local newspaper reported that Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs spoke before Congress last week in support of the government’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. According to Irwin, the $1.5 million that Qualcomm received when it was still a small business was instrumental in the development of its Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) cellular telephone technology. CDMA is the cornerstone of Qualcomm’s business today, which has grown to $11 billion in annual revenue and 17,500 employees.

I agree with Irwin that the government should continue its $2.5 billion in funding for the SBIR program. Not only have many innovations come out of the program, but it is an engine for economic growth for our nation. This growth then increases the tax base, which helps to defray the investment made by the government in the SBIR program. As Irwin pointed out to the members of Congress, Qualcomm paid federal income tax of $1.4 billion in 2010. In addition, thousands of Qualcomm employees across the country paid federal, state, and local taxes, and they made purchases that fueled their local economies. If Qualcomm had not received that key SBIR investment when it did, it’s quite possible that the company would never have taken off the way it has.

I am very proud of the work that the FED is doing in support of the DARPA Transition Support Pilot Program. In this program, the FED works closely with DARPA SBIR/STTR Phase II awardees to help them further develop, deploy, and commercialize their technologies. It is my understanding that DARPA’s SBIR awardees are developing some very innovative technologies, and that these technologies will provide our military with a number of advantages on the battlefield, and beyond. I am grateful for that.

— Bob