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SBIR Program Diversity and Assessment Challenges: Report of a Symposium
or to train his students; Dr. Olsen had engineers but no equipment. So the two collaborated and “it was an opportunity made in heaven.” The collaboration was fueled also by the strong desire in universities to transfer their technology to the commercial market. The SBIR provides a vehicle to do that.
Dr. Gabriel added the example of a CMU professor to whom the department gave a 49 percent leave of absence. The reason was that the professor had just won an SBIR grant that required him to spend at least 51 percent of his time at the company. He became the CEO of the company while holding a grant from a federal agency to continue working with his students, so he worked essentially half-time in both places. Dr. Bordogna agreed that any such arrangements that supported partnerships between academia, industry, and the federal government should be encouraged.
Deal Size in Venture Capital Investments
Carl Ray of the NASA SBIR program asked about the “deal size” as the limiting factor for the involvement of venture capital. He wanted to know whether venture capital firms might fund SBIR-type companies on a pool basis to reduce the risk. Michael Borrus of the Petkevich Group said that it was difficult to answer any question about trends because the changes in venture capital activities over the past 5 to 7 years had been so dramatic.