HL Deb 01 July 1999 vol 603 c53WA
Lord Lucas

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have plans to introduce a programme similar to the one reviewed in the Harvard Business School working paper, The Government as Venture Capitalist: The Long-Run Impact of the SBIR Program, by Professor Joshua Lerner. [HL3247]

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Simon of Highbury)

Professor Lerner's paper indicates that firms participating in the SBIR scheme have grown faster than other equivalent US firms. The UK already gives help to SMEs undertaking innovative research and development projects through the SMART scheme, which makes awards on a competitive basis to firms with fewer than 50 employees.

SMART is, however, a discretionary grant scheme, whereas SBIR is a legally enforced government procurement scheme. We will continue to consider alternative ways in which small firms can be helped to benefit from undertaking innovative research and development projects.