SBIR Gateway
SBIR Person of the Year 2015
Robert Schmidt

Bob Schmidt
Bob Schmidt
The story of David and Goliath is well known, but the story of this year's SBIR Person of the Year, Robert (Bob) Schmidt, is set in a scenario of Davids and Goliaths. Schmidt is the leader of the Davids from the small high tech businesses community. The Goliaths led by mega giants such as Google, were engaged against the "Davids" in a congressional battle for what was termed "Patent Reform".

Whether by design or accident, these two bills (H.R. 9, The Innovation Act; and S. 1137, PATENT Act) would make it virtually improbable for a small business to defend its intellectual property. The cloak of the legislation was allegedly wrapped around a goal to reduce/eliminate Patent Trolls, while the Goliaths tried to hide or invalidate claims of severe collateral damage that would be inflicted on small businesses and their investors.

The resourceful Bob Schmidt is owner and CEO of 5 successful small SBIR businesses with diverse interests ranging from defense technologies to medical device technologies. Armed with an amazing background including a JD in Patent Law, MBA, MS in Urban Environmental Studies, and a BS in Mechanical Engineering, Schmidt ignored the odds of taking on the big guys, and fearlessly went to work.

Schmidt knew the challenges of going against the Goliaths, led by Google who has the largest lobbying budget of any organization, more than $5.5 million in just the first 3 months of 2015! Even seasoned professionals on and about the Hill didn't think Schmidt and his small band of Davids stood any chance of derailing the Goliaths and their two "Patent Reform" bills in Congress.

Not only did Schmidt help organize other small businesses to join the fight, but he saw these bills as severely threatening university intellectual property as well, and was able to bring academia into the IP version of "Camp David" for that rare equation of Academia+SBIR=strange bedfellows.

Video of Bob Schmidt testifying in a Senate hearing on Patent Reform
Schmidt, who is also the co-chair of the Small Business Technology Council (SBTC), served as a key witness to give testimony on the patent legislation to the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. He met with many congressional offices in both House & Senate, and wrote a powerful Op-Ed on the subject published on the Hill newspaper web site.

Schmidt has been involved with SBIR for many years and has always played an important role in the fight for SBIR reauthorization. Over these years he made many good contacts in and around Congress, and was always willing to share his in depth knowledge and contacts with other small SBIR businesses. This includes his work this year against the egregious provisions in these two patent bills: H.R. 9, The Innovation Act; and S. 1137, PATENT Act.

The result of the work Schmidt and his band of Davids did was very much in evidence when the House dramatically pulled H.R. 9, "The Innovation Act" from being voted on in July. Both bills languished in the Congress for the rest of 2015 as our legislators received notice that these bills would be devastating to small business and universities. With 2016 being an election year, it is anticipated that these two bills will not be passed in the second session of the 114th Congress ending December 31, 2016.

For his exemplary work and outstanding efforts on behalf of SBIR community and other small businesses, Robert (Bob) Schmidt is named the SBIR Person of the Year for 2015.

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