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An Assessement of the Small Business Innovation Research Program: Project Methodology
Minimization of lags in converting from SBIR Phase I to Phase II
Parallel data collection across the five agency SBIR programs is to compile year-by-year program demographics for approximately the last decade. Data compilation requests will include the number of applications, number of awards, ratio of awards to applications, and total dollars awarded for each phase of the multi-phase program. It will cover the geographical distribution of applicants, awards, and success rates; statistics on applications and awards by women-owned and minority-owned companies; statistics on commercialization strategies and outcomes; results of agency-initiated data collection and analysis; and uniform data from a set of case studies for each agency.
The Committee plans to draw on the following data collection instruments:
Phase I recipient survey
Phase II recipient survey
SBIR program manager survey
COTAR (technical point of contact) survey
case data from selected cases
Data collected from these surveys and case studies will be added to existing public sources of data that will be used in the study, such as:
all agency data covering award applications, awards, outcomes, and program management
patent and citation data
venture capital data
Additional data may be collected as a follow-up based on an analysis of response.
The study will examine the agency rates of transition between phases, pending receipt of the agency databases for applications and awards of Phase I and Phase II.
The Phase II survey will gather information on all Phase III activity including commercial sales, sales to the federal government, export sales, follow-on federal R&D contracts, further investment in the technology by various sources, marketing activities, and identification of commercial products or federal programs that incorporate the products. SBIR Program manager surveys and interviews will address federal efforts to exploit the results of phase II SBIR into phase III federal programs.
First order metrics for commercialization revolve around these basic areas:
Sales (firm revenues)
Direct sales in the open market as a percentage of total sales
Indirect sales (e.g. bundled with other products and services) as a percent of total sales
Licensing or sale of technology
Contracts relating to products
Contracts relating to the means of production or delivery—processes
SBIR-related products, services, and processes procured by government agencies.
Spin-off of firms
The issue of commercial success goes beyond whether project awards go to firms that then succeed in the market. It is possible that these firms may well have succeeded anyway, or they may simply have displaced other firms that would have succeeded had their rival not received a subsidy. The issue is whether SBIR increases the number of small businesses that succeed in the market. If the data permit, the study team may try to emulate the research of Feldman and Kelley to test the hypothesis that the SBIR increases/does not increase the number of small businesses that pursue their research projects or achieve other goals.46
Broad economic benefits
Support for firm development, which may include:
Maryann P. Feldman and Maryellen R. Kelley, “Leveraging Research and Development: The impact of the Advanced Technology Program.” National Research Council, The Advanced Technology Program, Assessing Outcomes, 2001 op. cit.