Drawing on interviews, multiple survey instruments and case studies, and overcoming many of the research challenges identified above, the NRC Committee has developed a number of findings and practical recommendations for improving the effectiveness of the SBIR program at the Department of Defense.

The Committee found that the SBIR program at DoD is, in general, meeting the legislative and mission-related objectives of the program. The program is contributing directly to enhanced capabilities for the Department of Defense and the needs of those charged with defending the country.

Further, the Committee found that the DoD program also provides substantial benefits for small business participants in terms of market access, funding, and recognition. The program supports a diverse array of small businesses contributing to the vitality of the defense industrial base while providing greater competition and new options and opportunities for DoD managers. In addition, the Committee noted that the DoD SBIR program is generating significant intellectual capital, contributing to new scientific and technological knowledge, and generating numerous publications and patents.

The Committee’s recommended improvements to the program have been designed to enable the DoD SBIR managers to address the program’s congressional goals more efficiently and effectively. These include further work to improve the Phase III transition by (among other approaches) changing incentives faced by program managers so that they are motivated to make better use of the SBIR program. The Committee also recommends that additional funding should be provided for program management and assessment in order to encourage and support the development of an innovative and results-oriented SBIR program. The Committee’s complete findings and recommendations are listed in Chapter 2.

Chapter 3 provides a comprehensive overview of the distribution of SBIR awards by DoD, providing a basis (as drawn out in Chapter 4) for understanding program outcomes. Chapter 5 describes the Phase III challenge of commercialization at DoD. Chapter 6 describes the diversity of management structures as well as current practices and recent reforms found among the different services and agencies that fund SBIR programs at DoD. Together, this report provides the most detailed and comprehensive picture to date of the SBIR program at the Department of Defense.

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