provided the first estimate of the number of firms affected by the ruling, it did not address two key questions that bear on the policy issue at hand.44 These are:
How many firms would appear to be excluded by the ruling from participation in the NIH SBIR program?
What is the likely effect of this exclusion on these firms and on the NIH SBIR program?
These questions may be of particular importance in the biotechnology sector, where there is a substantial concentration of venture capital funding. (See Box 1-6.) However, these are not easy questions to answer. Data on venture fund-
U.S. Government Accountability Office, Small Business Innovation Research: Information on Awards Made by NIH and DoD in Fiscal Years 2002 through 2004, GAO-06-565, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Accountability Office, April 2006. The GAO report provides the number and characteristics of all awards, the number and characteristics of awards above the size guidelines, changes in award characteristics after 2002, the factors agencies consider in deciding awards, and the data they collect on SBIR awards. The GAO report, however, does not provide grounds to determine whether firms identified as venture-funded are in fact excluded from the SBIR program based on majority ownership grounds.