constitute an important measure of commercial success, as sales are an indicator of realized market demand for the output from a project.

There is however no single agreed benchmark against which to measure whether agencies have met the legislative objectives for commercialization. It seems, therefore, reasonable to assess commercialization against a range of benchmarks:

  1. R&D investments and research contracts. Beyond sales, further R&D investments and contracts are also good evidence that results from the project are moving toward commercialization. These investments and contracts may include partnerships, further grants and awards, or government contracts. The benchmarks for success at each of these levels should be the same as those above, namely:

    1. Any R&D additional funding.

    2. Funding of $1 million or more.

    3. Funding of $5 million or more.

    4. Funding of $50 million or more.

  1. Sale of equity constitutes a less clear-cut indicator of commercial activity. A company which is sold because its acquirer is seeking a successful product has generated returns. Key metrics include:

    1. Equity investment in the company by independent third party.

    2. Sale or merger of the entire company.

Using these metrics, to what extent have NIH SBIR companies commercialized?

Sales and Licensing Revenues from NIH SBIR Awards

Data from three sources indicate that 30-40 percent of NIH projects funded between 1992 and 2002 have reached the marketplace. (These three data sources all refer here only to NIH projects. Note however that subsequent NIH resurveys suggest that this may substantially understate the eventual commercialization rate.)

The projects underlying the percentages in Figure 4-1 have generated posi-

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