Some economists contend larger companies are more productive than small ones. Further, that the mantra of small business being the “engine” of the economy is overblown. That far from being job creators, their lack of scale, high failure rates and relative immobility are imposing factors preventing them from becoming true job-creation engines.
At Larta Institute, we have worked with thousands of companies over our lifetime. What I can say is that data and statistics simply do not capture the sheer energy, innovative spirit and spillover effects that small creators have brought to America and the world. Since the rise of the Web, moreover, their ability to nimbly navigate has been in full view. We have had the pleasure of seeing their successes, and yes, noting their failures.
This year, we were honored with the Tibbetts Award for our work as a supporting organization, working with hundreds of grantees of federal grants in the SBIR/STTR program. That program was brought into being by a bipartisan Congressional initiative in the early ‘80s. It has stimulated the growth of a range of extraordinary innovations relating to health, defense, materials, and more. It has spawned companies that are lodged firmly in the U.S.’ industrial firmament (more recently, Illumina and iRobot were SBIR winners).
We are delighted, humbled and honored to have won this extraordinary recognition. It is named after an extraordinary American, the late Roland Tibbetts, who is rightly considered one of the founding fathers of the SBIR/STTR program. His career spanned 20 years in the private sector and another 20 plus years at the National Science Foundation, where he conceived the idea of this groundbreaking program.
Those high-brow economists who scoff at the contributions of small companies to the knowledge base, at their innovative capability and capacity and ability to adapt quickly, clearly lack imagination, daring, or both. At Larta, we will always be attentive, passionate and committed to small companies, emerging or more established. Fortunately, many larger organizations see the need to cultivate this strain of American exceptionalism, and equally fortuitous, we have the SBIR/STTR program, which we hope will continue to evolve and improve, to help this country soar from bench to boardroom, from lab to liftoff.