1. DoE awards are characterized by a relatively high degree of private sales. Of the DoE SBIR award recipient firms that responded to the NRC Phase II Survey and reported sales of some type, 76 percent sold to domestic private sector firms and 14 percent to export markets.6

  2. Limits on potential for broader commercialization. In cases where the market is inherently limited, as with the case with sensitive energy technologies, products developed with DoE SBIR assistance often cannot become a large commercial successes.7

  1. DoE has a substantial history of commercialization support and has expanded its efforts in recent years.

    1. DoE has sponsored a Commercialization Assistance Program (CAP) for the past 17 years. That program has provided, on a voluntary basis to Phase II awardees, individual assistance in developing business plans and in preparation of presentations to potential investment sponsors. It is operated by a contractor, Dawnbreaker, Inc., a private firm based in Rochester, NY.

    2. For the past 6 years, DoE has offered their Phase II awardees additional market identification and networking service which requires much less time commitment from awardees than the very intensive CAP.8 These programs have provided professional assistance in business plan development and/or market evaluation to participating SBIR companies.

    3. Systematic tracking is necessary to assess the impact of these efforts on commercialization.9

  1. Third-party investors can be encouraged by the validation effect of SBIR funding.

    1. Additional investments. Sixty-three percent of respondents indicated that they had received or made additional investments in the surveyed project, averaging just under $1 million per project.10

    2. No venture funding. For a number of reasons (at least until recently) the energy sector in general and therefore DoE SBIR projects have not been attractive to venture capitalists. No responding projects indicated that they had received venture capital funding.11

6

See Table 4-2.

7

The case study of Diversified Technologies illustrates this phenomenon with regard to specialized transformers. See Appendix D.

8

DoE SBIR publications and Web site; interviews with DoE SBIR staff.

9

DoE calls for its contractors, Dawnbreaker and Foresight, to track their clients’ performance for at least two years.

10

See NRC Phase II Survey, Questions 22 and 23.

11

See Table 4-4.



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