1. Encourage participation. Develop targeted outreach to improve the participation rates of woman- and minority-owned firms, and strategies to improve their success rates. These outreach efforts and other strategies should be based on causal factors determined by analysis of past proposals and feedback from the affected groups.69

  2. Encourage emerging talent. The number of women and, to a lesser extent, minorities graduating with advanced scientific and engineering degrees has been increasing significantly over the past decade, especially in the biomedical sciences. This means that many of the woman and minority scientists and engineers with the advanced degrees usually necessary to compete effectively in the SBIR program are relatively young and may not yet have arrived at the point in their careers where they own their own companies. However, they may well be ready to serve as principal investigators (PIs) and/or senior co-investigators (Co-Is) on SBIR projects. Over time, this talent pool could become a promising source of SBIR participants.

  3. Improve data collection and analysis. The Committee also strongly encourages the agencies to gather and report the data that would track woman and minority firms as well as principal investigators (PIs), and to ensure that SBIR is an effective road to opportunity.

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This recommendation should not be interpreted as lowering the bar for the acceptance of proposals from woman- and minority-owned companies. Rather it should be seen as assisting them to become able to meet published criteria for grants at rates similar to other companies on the basis of merit, and to ensure that there are no negative evaluation factors in the review process that are biased against these groups.



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