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An Assessment of the SBIR Program
At NASA, where the market within NASA for technologies, though important, may not be large enough to sustain long term development and profitability, the focus is increasingly on the spinout of technologies into the private sector.
At NIH, NSF, and DoE, commercialization means finding markets in the private sector.
These differences mean that while in general all commercialization assistance programs provide help in formulating business plans, in developing strategic business objectives, and in tuning pitches for more funding, there are important differences. In particular, DoD, which accounts for about half of the entire SBIR program, has commercialization programs that are largely (though not exclusively) focused on markets internal to DoD and on the particularly complex process of finding a way into the acquisition stream. This requires different training, different analysis, and different benchmarks than do other commercialization programs.
All of these suggest that it is important to find appropriate benchmarks against which to measure success.