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Small Business Innovation Research Program Records

Identifier: 2012-042

Scope and Content

The Small Business Innovation Research Program Records contain the institutional records of the organization and the personal records of Arthur S. Obermayer. The collection is broadly organized along the lines of “who did what”: Series I concerns the contributions of Arthur S. Obermeyer; Series II concerns the activities of the National Council for Small Business Innovation (NCSBI); Series III concerns the contributions of U.S. Senator Edward “Ted” M. Kennedy (Democrat-Massachusetts), who became the program’s foremost congressional champion; Series IV concerns the SBIR Act and its accompanying legislation, the Bayh-Dole Patent Act; Series V-VI provide the background to the legislation that was finally produced and to deal with the problem of economic conversion in the wake of the Vietnam War. The collection is arranged into the following seven series:

  1. Arthur S. Obermayer
  2. 1980 White House Conference on Small Business/National Council for Small Business Innovation
  3. Small Business Innovation Research and National Science Foundation/Bayh-Dole Patent Act
  4. Federal Legislation/Policy Documents
  5. Economic Conversion
  6. U.S. and Massachusetts Government Response
  7. Arthur S. Obermayer Addenda


  • Creation: 1956-2006
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1970-1982


Access Restrictions

There are no access restrictions on the materials.

Copyright Information

The Science History Institute holds copyright to the Small Business Innovation Research Program Records. The researcher assumes full responsibility for all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Background Note

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is a United States Government program, coordinated by the Small Business Administration. The program grew out of a 1965 proposal for a State Technical Services Act which would have provided support for commercial research. This act was never ratified into law, but by 1970, with the Vietnam War coming to an end, cut-backs in government defense spending created a crisis for research and development (R and D) firms dependent upon government contracts. Under the rubric “economic conversion,” shifting from a military to civilian market, the federal and state governments began looking for ways to alleviate the problems of unemployment in the technology sector and a loss of confidence in the financial sector.

The Small Business Innovation Research program was to be administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF), creating concerns among NSF’s established academic constituency that this would be used by for-profit businesses on funds badly needed for their own research. U.S. Senate Bill S.1860 was especially favored by the small business community in that it provided a set-aside for support of small high-tech firms and the accompanying Bayh-Dole Patent Bill would provide protection for any patent-worthy innovations arising out of government-funded research. The Bayh-Dole Patent Act (Public Law 96-517) was signed into law by U.S. President Jimmy Carter on December 12, 1980. The SBIR program was established under the Small Business Innovation Development Act of 1982 (Public Law 97-219) with the purpose of strengthening the role of innovative small business concerns in Federally-funded research and development. The Act awarded federal research grants to small businesses. Arthur S. Obermayer played a major role in promoting the passage through the U.S. Congress of the Small Business Innovation Development Act and the Bayh-Dole Patent Act.

Arthur S. Obermayer was an American businessman and philanthropist with a background in chemistry. Obermayer was born on July 17, 1931 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He received his B.A. from Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, and his Ph.D. in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts (1956). In 1961, he founded Moleculon Research Corporation, a chemical, polymer, and pharmaceutical research and development company. In 1981, Obermayer was a founding general partner of Zero Stage Capital, LLP, an early stage venture capital organization. Moleculon, Incorporated went public in 1984 and was sold to the largest independent Australian pharmaceutical company in 1988.

Obermayer’s work on the campaign he initiated to see Reverend Robert F. Drinan (Democrat-Massachusetts) elected to the U.S. House of Representatives was the beginning of his involvement in Democratic Party politics. In 1970, he gave testimony before U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s (Democrat-Massachusetts) committee on problems relating to economic conversion. In addition to Congressman Drinan, he formed close ties with U.S. Senators Edward Kennedy and George McGovern (Democrat-South Dakota). In the battle to see SBIR become law, Obermayer and his wife Dr. Judith Obermayer worked with and through the Association of Technical Professionals (ATP), the Smaller Business Association of New England (SBANE), and the Research Management Association (RMA). Beginning in 1995, he advised over forty organizations on strategies for effectively using the Internet.

As a philanthropist, Obermayer co-founded Meretz USA (later known as Partners for Progressive Israel) in 1992. In 2000, he co-founded the Obermayer German Jewish History Awards with the genealogical organization JewishGen and the Leo Baeck Institute. Obermayer was a recipient of the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2007. In 2015, he and his wife, Judith, were inducted into the United States Small Business Administration Hall of Fame. Arthur S. Obermayer passed away on January 10, 2016 in Dedham, Massachusetts.


Small Business Innovation Research Program Records, Science History Institute Archives, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


8.3 Linear Feet (7 boxes.)

Language of Materials



Correspondence, biographical materials, manuscripts, abstracts, congressional testimony, copies of U.S. Senate and House of Representatives legislation, copies of congressional records, and publications of the Small Business Innovation Research Program, which were collected and maintained by American businessman and philanthropist Arthur S. Obermayer.

Acquisition Information

The Small Business Innovation Research Program Records were donated to the Science History Institute (formerly the Chemical Heritage Foundation) by Arthur S. Obermayer in 2012.

Related Materials

There are no other known archival collections created by the Small Business Innovation Research Program Records at the time of processing.

There are three known archival collections created by Arthur S. Obermayer at the date of processing:

1. Arthur S. Obermayer Papers, American Jewish Historical Society, New York, New York. 2. Arthur S. Obermayer Cube Suit Collection, Strong National Museum of Play, Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, Rochester, New York. 3. Arthur S. Obermayer Collection, Swarthmore College, Peace Collection, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.

Processing Information

The Small Business Innovation Research Program Records were processed by Andrew Mangravite in 2017 and encoded into EAD by Samantha Brigher in 2021.

Small Business Innovation Research Program Records
The Small Business Innovation Research Program Records were processed by Andrew Mangravite in 2017 and encoded into EAD by Samantha Brigher in 2021.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2021: Revised by Samantha Brigher.

Repository Details

Part of the Science History Institute Archives Repository

315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia PA 19106 United States
215.873.5265 (Fax)