He concluded by asserting that the SBIR program is “very important for the DOD,” and for every agency, as “part of an overall collection of things where we try to make sure that we really do have the best technology for the warfighter.” He noted that the DoD’s SBIR program worked well with both large and small firms, universities, other federal labs, and U.S. coalition partners. This broad reach was essential, he concluded, “because science and technology is critical to our success and to our future.”
Dr. Gansler pointed out that the examples of large commercialized systems given above were programs initiated by DoD SBIR awards; later, after development, DoD entities also became the purchasers. He said that in other cases, programs that began under SBIR contracts to the DoD later developed products of commercial value that had little to do with the original defense work. He cited the example of Martek Biosciences, now a profitable biotechnology firm that began work with DoD SBIR funding for space programs. Today, Martek sells commercial products for medical purposes that have little to do with the DoD.20 Other case studies show that projects also may move from one federal agency to another during technology development, according to the changing capabilities of the technology or changing needs of agencies.
A questioner asked Dr. Gansler how S&T needs had changed since 9/11, and whether shifts in the industrial base since the Cold War would affect the distribution of research capabilities. Dr. Gansler agreed that the two issues were related, and that the structure of research in the defense establishment was now “totally different” since 9/11. After the Cold War, consolidation in the defense industry trimmed the number of large defense contractors to six and reduced the participation of small firms. Since 9/11, the DoD has searched more widely for ideas and innovations and sought the R&D participation of more small businesses. He said the DoD was also seeking the participation of more universities in doing research. Specifically, he noted the need to move beyond the large research universities to the smaller campuses, such as Bowie State University in Maryland, a historically black university he had recently visited. “We need to figure out how to get research done at more schools,” he said.
Dr. Gansler then introduced the members of the first panel.
Martek Biosciences Corp. develops and sells products extracted from microalgae, including formula for children’s milk. <http://www.martekbio.com/home.asp>.