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SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy (2016)

Chapter: Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
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Appendix F

Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data

As noted in chapters 1 and 5, Congress mandated four goals for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program: (1) to stimulate technological innovation; (2) to use small business to meet federal research and development needs; (3) to foster and encourage participation by minority and disadvantaged persons in technological innovation; and (4) to increase private-sector commercialization derived from federal research and development.1 The goals for the STTR program are to (1) stimulate technological innovation, (2) foster technology transfer through cooperative R&D between small businesses and research institutions, and (3) increase private-sector commercialization of innovations derived from federal R&D.2Chapter 5 and the extended data in this appendix provide an analysis of program outcomes related to the goals of stimulating technological innovation, using small business to meet federal research and development needs, increasing private-sector commercialization of federally funded research,3 and fostering technology transfer through cooperative R&D between small businesses and research institutions. The approach analyzes outcomes as revealed primarily by the performance of Department of Energy (DoE) Phase II SBIR and STTR awards from fiscal year (FY) 2001 to FY 2010 based on data from the 2014 Survey carried out by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. This annex reports these data in greater detail and serves as a supplement to Chapter 5.

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1 Small Business Innovation Development Act of 1982, P.L. 97-219, July 22, 1982.

2 Small Business Administration, “About STTR,” https://www.sbir.gov/about/about-sttr, accessed July 9, 2015. Only the first two objectives are embedded in the authorizing legislation, although there is little controversy about the importance of the third, which appears to have been added by the Small Business Administration (SBA) in drafting its governing Policy Guidance for the program.

3 The second SBIR goal of using small businesses to meet federal research and development needs was also discussed to some extent in Chapter 2 (Program Management). The third SBIR goal of fostering the participation of women and minorities is the focus of Chapter 6.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
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Most response data4 for the 2014 Survey is reported at the project level. Some survey questions, however, collect company-level information (such as number of employees). In cases where company information, as opposed to individual project information, was collected, multiple responses from the same company were averaged. Tables and figures with company-level data are marked as reporting the number and percentage of responding companies.

FOCUS ON COMMERCIALIZATION OUTCOMES

Although there are multiple statutory goals for the SBIR and STTR programs, subsequent legislation passed by Congress, as well as administrative policies pursued by DoE and the other major SBIR/STTR agencies, focus primarily on the commercialization of SBIR/STTR technologies.5 Moreover, given that commercialization is among the more measurable outcomes of the SBIR/STTR programs, it has become a primary benchmark for program performance. The focus on commercialization, however, should not be allowed to obscure the requirement that the program meet all congressionally mandated objectives. This annex provides additional details of the commercial outcomes of the DoE SBIR/STTR programs, as well as quantitative outcome measures related to stimulating technological innovation.

APPENDIX OUTLINE

The remainder of this annex is broken into two sections: (1) Quantitative Survey Evidence that DoE Increased Commercialization and (2) Quantitative Survey Evidence that DoE Stimulated Technological Innovation.

QUANTITATIVE EVIDENCE THAT DOE INCREASED COMMERCIALIZATION

At DoE, the priority for the SBIR/STTR programs is to support the development and commercialization of technologies that will address the nation’s energy needs. In contrast to DoD and NASA, it is not expected that SBIR/STTR technologies will be used by the agency itself, except for some projects used by the National Laboratories. Sales are primarily made into the domestic private sector.

Defining “Commercialization”

Several important conceptual challenges emerge when seeking to define “commercialization” for the purposes of the SBIR/STTR programs. Like

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4 Averaged survey response data is reported to the nearest whole number.

5 SBA Section 1.(c) SBIR/STTR Policy Directive, October 18, 2012, p. 3.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
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many apparently simple concepts, commercialization becomes progressively more difficult and complex as it is subjected to further scrutiny.6 For example:

  • Should commercialization include just sales or other kinds of revenue, such as licensing fees and funding for further development?
  • What is the appropriate benchmark for sales? Is it any sales whatsoever, sufficient sales to cover the costs of awards, sales that lead to breaking even on a project, or sales that reflect a commercial level of success and viability? The latter at least would likely be different for each project in each company.
  • Should commercialization include license fees and sales by licensees, which may be many multiples of the sales by the licensors?
  • Should commercialization metrics focus only on formally recognized Phase III contracts,7 or should they more widely cover follow-on sales and development activities even when not formally recognized as Phase III?

For the purposes of this study, the committee deployed a broad net to capture a range of data. Once acquired, these data were analyzed in a variety of ways to provide insights into this complex topic.8 For example, a simple measure of the percentage of funded projects that reach the marketplace is not a conclusive indicator of commercial success.

In the private sector, commercial success over the long term requires profitability. However, in the short term, the path to successful commercialization can involve many different aspects of commercial activity, from product rollout to licensing to patenting to acquisition. Even during new product rollout, companies often do not generate immediate profits.

SBIR/STTR Sales

Perhaps the single most used metric for assessing SBIR/STTR-type programs is sales by the company and/or licensee of products, processes, or services or other sales incorporating the technology developed during the surveyed project. Although we have earlier cautioned against overuse of this metric—and therefore employ a wide range of metrics in the current

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6 Measurement of commercialization also raises questions about time needed to commercialize new technologies. For a discussion of this “commercialization lag,” see Box A-1 in Appendix A. As noted separately in Appendix A, limiting the 2014 Survey to Phase II awards from no later than FY 2010 allowed two years for completion of the Phase II awards and an additional two years for commercialization, and this timeframe was consistent with the 2005 Survey.

7 “Phase III” is in the context of DoD a technical term for contracts that are officially recognized as following from an SBIR or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase II award. Not all follow-on contracts are so recorded.

8 For an overview of the commercialization metrics and survey used in this study, see Appendix A (Methodology).

Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
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assessment—sales is still an important consideration.9 While sales is a legitimate indicator of progress toward commercialization, it is not a reliable measure that commercial success has occurred.

Reaching the Market

The first survey question in this area concerns reaching the market: Did the project generate any sales, and if not, are sales expected (a necessary question given the long cycle time of some projects)? Responses are summarized in Table F-1. Forty-nine percent of all respondents reported some sales, and another 23 percent expected sales in the future. The percentage reporting sales to date was lower than for the 2005 Survey of SBIR award winners carried out by the National Academies, which found 57 percent of respondents reporting sales.10 Respondents expecting sales in the future increased from 19 percent for the 2005 Survey to 23 percent for the 2014 Survey.

Amount of Sales

Simply identifying the percentage of projects reaching the market is an important metric to signal that commercial activity has begun, but as was noted

TABLE F-1 Status of Sales to Date for DoE SBIR/STTR Projects, Reported by 2014 Survey Respondents

Percentage of Respondents
Overall SBIR Awardees STTR Awardees
No sales to date 51 48 67

No sales to date nor are sales expected

28 28 23

No sales to date, but sales are expected

23 20 43
Any sales to date 49 52 33

Sales of product(s)

38 39 30

Sales of process(es)

4 5

Sales of services(s)

22 23 17

Other sales (e.g., rights to technology, licensing, etc.)

6 6.8
N (Number of Respondents) 251 221 30

NOTE: Respondents could report multiple types of sales for a single project, so the types of sales do not sum to “Any sales to date.”

SOURCE: 2014 Survey, Question 32.

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9 Similar cautions can be found in National Research Council, An Assessment of the Small Business Innovation Research Program at the National Institutes of Health, p. 81.

10 The results of the National Academies’ 2005 Survey of SBIR award recipients are reported in National Research Council, An Assessment of the SBIR Program at the Department of Energy, Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2009, p. 143.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
×

previously, it is not sufficient to indicate commercial success. It is also important to understand the volume and distribution of sales and how sales revenue relates to the costs incurred in generating the revenue. The survey asked those respondents who reported some sales of the project-related technology to report the amount of sales. Overall, 32 percent reported sales of at least $1 million (see Table F-2).

Markets by Sector

Because DoE is not itself a significant market, it is not surprising that the largest market reported was for sales made to the domestic private sector. Export markets accounted for an average of 24 percent of sales (see Table F-3). These figures are very similar to those for the 2005 survey.11 An average of six percent of reported sales were to DoE. Eleven percent were sales to DoD or DoD contractors, a much higher percentage than in the National Academies’ 2008 report.12

Employment

The 2014 Survey asked respondents both about the number of company employees at the time of the award and at the time of the survey. As shown in Table F-4 and F-5, although 47 percent of responding companies had fewer than 10 employees at the time of award, this figure dropped to 20 percent at the time

TABLE F-2 Distribution of Total Sales Dollars, by Range and Phase, Reported by 2014 Survey Respondents

Total Sales Dollars Percentage of Respondents
Overall SBIR Awardees STTR Awardees
None (0) 3 3 0
1-99,999 22 22 20
100,000-499,999 30 29 40
500,000-999,999 14 13 30
1,000,000-4,999,999 23 24 10
5,000,000-9,999,999 3 3 0
10,000,000-19,999,999 4 5 0
20,000,000-49,999,999 2 2 0
50,000,000 or more
Mean (Thousands of Dollars) 2,314 2,468 655
Median 300 300 300
N (Respondents Reporting Sales) 118 108 10

SOURCE: 2014 Survey, Question 34.

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11 National Research Council, An Assessment of the SBIR Program at the Department of Energy, p. 145.

12 Ibid.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
×

of the survey. The median at the time of award was 10 employees, but the mean size grew significantly from 23 at the time of award to 29 at the time of the survey. Among the 6 percent of firms to report at least 100 employees at the time of the survey, some had grown substantially.

TABLE F-3 Average Percentage of Project Sales by Markets Sector, Reported by 2014 Survey Respondents

Mean Value (Percent) Reported by Respondents that Reported Sales
Overall SBIR Awardees STTR Awardees
Domestic private sector 39 39 38
Export markets 24 23 30
Department of Defense (DoD) 6 5 15
NASA 1 1 1
Prime contractors for DoD 5 5 0
Prime contractors for NASA 1 1 0
Department of Energy 6 6 11
Other federal agencies 8 8 3
State or local governments 2 2 0
Other (Specify below, if applicable) 10 11 4
N (Respondents Reporting Sales) 120 110 10

NOTE: For this question, each respondent reported a percentage distribution. The values above are calculated by deriving the mean value for all the responses for each category.

SOURCE: 2014 Survey, Question 36.

TABLE F-4 Number of Employees at Time of Award, Reported by 2014 Survey Responding Companies

Percentage of Responding Companies
Overall SBIR Awardees STTR Awardees
1 3 4 0
2 7 7 7
3 or 4 18 17 29
5 to 9 19 19 17
10 to 19 19 18 26
20 to 49 21 22 11
50 to 99 9 8 11
100 or more 4 5 1
Mean 23 24 17
Median 10 10 9
N (Number of Responding Companies) 126 110 15

NOTE: In cases where company information, as opposed to individual project information, was collected, multiple responses from the same company were averaged.

SOURCE: 2014 Survey, Question 14.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
×

TABLE F-5 Number of Employees at Time of Survey, Reported by 2014 Survey Responding Companies

Percentage of Responding Companies
Overall SBIR Awardees STTR Awardees
0 3 1 20
1 2 2 0
2 6 6 0
3 or 4 9 9 7
5 to 9 23 22 26
10 to 19 23 23 28
20 to 49 19 21 8
50 to 99 9 9 11
100 or more 6 7 1
Mean 29 30 17
Median 10 10 9
N (Number of Responding Companies) 127 111 15

NOTE: In cases where company information, as opposed to individual project information, was collected, multiple responses from the same company were averaged.

SOURCE: 2014 Survey, Question 14.

Further Investment

The ability of SBIR/STTR projects and companies to attract further investment has traditionally been a defining metric for SBIR/STTR outcomes.13 There has also been interest in the sources of further investment for high-tech innovation.

Overall, as shown in Table F-6, 78 percent of respondents indicated that their company received further investment in the project-related technology. As with prior surveys, there is substantial skew in the amount of additional funding received. Fifty-nine percent of respondents reported receiving some further investment but less than $1 million, and 1 percent reported receiving $5 million or more. Table F-7 shows the sources of further project investments reported by respondents to the 2014 Survey. Of those projects that received additional funding, 39 percent received funding from U.S. private-sector sources, 40 percent from non-SBIR/STTR federal sources, and 20 percent from other external sources. Seventy-five percent received additional funding from internal sources. Overall, 2 percent of those that received additional funding received venture capital funding and 5 percent received funding from angel and other private equity investors. Twenty percent of projects received strategic investments from U.S. partners and 2 percent received strategic investments from strategic foreign partners.

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13 See National Research Council, An Assessment of the SBIR Program, Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2008.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
×

TABLE F-6 Additional Funding by Amount to Surveyed Projects, Reported by 2014 Survey Respondents

Amount of Additional Project Funding Percentage of Respondents
Overall SBIR Awardees STTR Awardees
None (0) 22 23 15
1-99,999 25 23 37
100,000-499,999 23 24 19
500,000-999,999 11 11 15
1,000,000-4,999,999 18 18 15
5,000,000-9,999,999 1 1
10,000,000-19,999,999 0 1
20,000,000-49,999,999
50,000,000 or more
Mean (Thousands of Dollars) 814 836 630
Median (Thousands of Dollars) 300 300 50
N (Number of Respondents) 245 218 27

SOURCE: 2014 Survey, Question 30.

Mergers and Acquisitions

SBIR/STTR firms often advance technologies toward commercialization through mergers or other company-level activities. As shown in Table F-8, 53 percent of responding companies indicated that they had not been acquired or merged, had not entered into a strategic partnership with a major industry player, had not implemented or planned an initial public offering (IPO), and had not established a spin-off. Conversely, 30 percent had entered into a strategic partnership with a major industry player, 19 percent had established one or more spin-off companies, and 8 percent had been acquired by or merged with another firm.

Commercialization Assistance

DoE has provided commercialization training for SBIR/STTR awardees for a number of years, through arrangements with third-party providers (see Chapter 3, “Program Initiatives”). Overall, 42 percent of respondents received commercialization assistance in connection with the surveyed SBIR or STTR award: about two-thirds of these from Dawnbreaker and most of the remaining third from Foresight.14 Of those reporting commercialization assistance, 37 percent rated the assistance as valuable or extremely valuable. Conversely, about one-quarter of participants rated the assistance as not very valuable or not at all valuable. (See Table F-9).

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14 2014 Survey, Question 49. N (Number of Respondents) = 100.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
×

TABLE F-7 Sources of Further Project Investment, Reported by 2014 Survey Respondents

Sources of Further Project Investment Percentage of Respondents
Overall SBIR Awardees STTR Awardees
Non-SBIR/STTR Federal Funds 40 40 39
Private Investment: U.S. Sources 39 41 23

Venture capital (VC)

2 2 0

U.S. angel funding or other private equity investment (not VC)

5 6 0

Friends and family

3 3 0

Strategic investors/partners

20 20 15

Other sources

15 17 8
Foreign Investment 2 2 0

Financial investors

1 1 0

Strategic investors/partners

2 2 0
Other External Sources 20 17 39

State or local governments

12 11 19

Research institutions (such as colleges, universities or medical centers)

9 8 19

Foundations

0 0 0
Internal Sources 75 75 73

Your own company (Including money you have borrowe

) 72 72 73

Personal funds

8 9 4
N (Number of Respondents Reporting Additional Project Investment Funding) 195 169 26

NOTE: Respondents were asked to select applicable categories and subcategories of sources of further investment.

SOURCE: 2014 Survey, Question 31.

The 2014 Survey also asked whether the company has at least one full-time staff person for marketing. In another metric of the extent to which responding companies focus on marketing, less than one-half of responding companies reported employing at least one full-time marketing staff member.15

Overview: Commercialization

Data from the 2014 Survey provide useful insight into the commercialization record of SBIR/STTR companies at DoE, on a number of dimensions.

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15 2014 Survey, Question 13. N = 128.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
×

TABLE F-8 Company-Level Changes, Reported by 2014 Survey Responding Companies

Percentage of Responding Companies
Overall SBIR Awardees STTR Awardees
Entered into strategic partnership with major industry player 30 29 33
Established one or more spin-off companies 19 20 7
Acquired by/merged with another firm 8 8 6
Made an initial public offering 2 2 0
Planning to make an initial public offering in the next 2 years 0 0 0
None of the above 53 52 59
N (Number of Responding Companies) 131 114 16

NOTE: Responses do not sum to 100 percent because respondents could select more than one answer.

SOURCE: 2014 Survey, Question 11.

TABLE F-9 Value of Commercialization Assistance, Reported by 2014 Survey Respondents

Percentage of Respondents
Overall SBIR Awardees STTR Awardees
Extremely valuable 1 12 0
Very valuable 27 30 7
Somewhat valuable 40 35 67
Not very valuable 19 17 27
Not at all valuable 5 6 0
N (Number of Respondents Reporting Receiving Commercialization Assistance in Connection with Surveyed SBIR/STTR Award) 101 86 15

SOURCE: 2014 Survey, Question 51.

The data show that, among survey respondents, a substantial percentage of projects achieve sales of products or services and/or the receipt of further investment. Forty-nine percent of respondents reported sales from the awarded project. A further 23 percent expected sales in the future. Given the relatively short time between the award date for some of these awards and the survey date, and the long time-to-market for many products, these expectations are not unreasonable. DoE did not provide independent data against which the validity of the survey responses can be cross-checked.

Overall, the scale of sales is very limited. Sixty-nine percent of respondents with project-related revenues reported sales of $1 million or less.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
×

No respondents reported sales of more than $50 million, and 6 percent of respondents reported sales of $10 million to under $50 million.

Further investment is an important metric for commercialization potential. Many Phase II projects are not yet ready for the marketplace at the end of the award period, but 78 percent of respondents reported additional project-related investment, mostly for amounts of less than $1 million. One percent of respondents reported $5 million or more in further investment and none reported more than $20 million. The sources of this additional funding varied. Forty percent of respondents reported non-SBIR/STTR federal sources, and 39 percent reported U.S. private sector sources (including 2 percent for venture capital and 5 percent for angel investment). U.S.-based strategic investors were also important (20 percent).

The scope of commercialization—that is, the share of firms who either commercialize directly or find additional funding on the path to commercialization—is substantial and meets congressional objectives. However, the small scale of commercialization is less positive. This suggests that the type of projects being funded may not be designed for large-scale commercialization, a point discussed in detail in Chapter 2. Overall, these data support the committee’s view that SBIR/STTR funding is associated with outcomes that meet congressional mandates for commercialization. Better outcomes data from the agency would allow for a more definitive conclusion and a more detailed understanding of the links between agency programs and outcomes.

QUANTITATIVE EVIDENCE THAT DOE STIMULATED TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATION

The committee also considered the question of whether DoE’s SBIR and STTR program stimulated technological innovation. The congressionally mandated objective for the SBIR and STTR programs to “stimulate technological innovation” is often equated with patenting activity; however, in the context of small business, this standard metric of innovation does not capture the entire story. Patenting is important, but it is also expensive; some innovative companies prefer to keep their technology secret or to rely on first-mover advantages or other market-based leverage to defend their technologies. Still, standard metrics of knowledge outcomes provide at least a starting point for quantitative analysis. Consequently, the survey addressed different intellectual property (IP)-related metrics.16 This section of the appendix examines a number

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16 The values of patents, trademarks, copyrights, and peer-reviewed papers as metrics vary. Any unique item, painting, photo, or music score can be copyrighted for a modest fee. Trademarks include more processing, because registered trademarks need to be unique in their field so as to not impinge on another prior trademark’s domain. A patent can be valuable IP, and patents have been correlated with prosperity. Refereed journal articles as a metric are not as highly valued outside of academia as inside, although company executives state in interviews that publications help to attract and keep high-quality staff and also provide additional validation for (and publicity about) their technology.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
×

of measures to examine how the DoE SBIR and STTR programs have stimulated technological innovation—first examining knowledge outcomes such as patents and then returning to the broader topic of fostering innovative companies.

Knowledge Outcomes

Patents

Although patents and peer-reviewed papers are not the only metrics of knowledge development and dissemination by small high-tech companies, they offer a useful starting point. Patents are to some degree the life blood of high-tech firms. Table F-10 shows the overall number of patents that responding companies reported as being related to any SBIR or STTR award they have received (not just DoE SBIR or STTR awards). Overall, 68 percent of responding companies received at least one such patent, and 17 percent reported receiving 10 or more such patents. With regard to patents related to the specific award being surveyed, Table F-11 shows that 39 percent of respondents reported receipt of at least one patent related to the surveyed award, and 2 percent reported receipt of five or more related patents.

Copyrights and Trademarks

Related indicators of the creation of intellectual capital include copyrights and trademarks. Nine percent of respondents reported receiving a

TABLE F-10 Number of Patents per Company Related to All Company SBIR/STTR Awards, Reported by 2014 Survey Responding Companies

Number of Patents Percentage of Responding Companies
Overall SBIR Awardees STTR Awardees
0 32 34 14
1 8 9 0
2 12 11 16
3 10 9 18
4 8 7 18
5 to 9 14 13 22
10 or more 17 17 12
1 or more 68 66 86
Mean 6 6 5
Median 2 2 4
N (Number of Responding Companies) 123 109 14

NOTE: In cases where company information, as opposed to individual project information, was collected, multiple responses from the the same company were averaged.

SOURCE: 2014 Survey, Question 12.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
×

TABLE F-11 Patents Awarded Related to Surveyed Project, Reported by 2014 Survey Respondents

Number of Patents Percentage of Respondents
Overall SBIR Awardees STTR Awardees
0 61 62 55
1 22 21 36
2 8 9 0
3 or 4 7 7 9
5 to 9 1 1 0
10 or more 1 1 0
1 or more 39 38 46
N (Number of Respondents) 206 184 22

SOURCE: 2014 Survey, Question 38.

trademark related to the surveyed project, and only 4 percent received a copyright related to the surveyed project.17

Peer-reviewed Publications

Publications in peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings are a standard method for disseminating scientific knowledge. As with the first-round assessment by the National Academies, some case study interviewees (e.g. Creare) noted that publication in peer-reviewed journals was an essential part of the firm’s work.18

For the purposes of this assessment, peer-reviewed publications are important for two reasons:

  • They validate the quality of the research being conducted with program funds.
  • They are themselves the primary mechanism through which knowledge is transmitted within the scientific community.

The survey therefore also addressed peer-reviewed publications. As shown in Table F-12, 73 percent of SBIR/STTR respondents overall and 88 percent of STTR respondents indicated that at least one article had been published in a scientific publication for the technology developed as a result of the surveyed project. Thirty-nine percent overall reported publishing three or more such articles.

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17 2014 Survey, Question 38.

18 National Research Council, An Assessment of the SBIR Program at the Department of Energy, Appendix D.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
×

TABLE F-12 Peer-Reviewed Scientific Publications Related to the Surveyed Project, Reported by 2014 Survey Respondents

Number of articles published in scientific publications for the technology developed as a result of the project. Percentage of Respondents
Overall SBIR Awardees STTR Awardees
0 27 29 12
1 17 17 19
2 16 16 15
3 or 4 17 18 12
5 to 9 14 13 27
10 or more 8 7 15
1 or more 73 71 88
Mean 7 7 4
Median 2 2 3
N (Number of Respondents) 210 184 26

SOURCE: 2014 Survey, Question 38.

Links to Research Institutions

The survey included a number of questions about the use of research institution staff and facilities on the surveyed project. As shown in Table F-13, nearly one-half of all SBIR/STTR respondents and nearly all STTR respondents reported an RI connection of some kind. Looking at the numbers in more detail, 10 percent of STTR respondents and 1 percent of all respondents reported that the PI was a RI faculty member. STTR respondents were also more likely than than respondents overall to report that the technology was licensed from the RI (13 versus 5 percent) and that the technology was originally developed at the RI by a project team member (30 versus 9 percent). Box F-1 describes a workshop that the committee convened to address a range of issues related to university-SBIR linkages. Linkages to university is an important component in examining evidence that DoE “stimulated technological innovation,” a goal of both the SBIR and STTR programs. University connections can also benefit SBCs by giving access to technical expertise.

Respondents were also asked to identify the research institutions with which they worked in various capacities on the surveyed project. Although the type of help varied widely, some universities were mentioned by a number of respondents. Overall, 79 different RIs were identified for 148 projects. RIs mentioned by two or more respondents are listed below in Table F-14 (see Appendix D for the complete list of research institutions that were mentioned). Some of the names on this list are large state universities, a number of which have in recent years focused on technology transition as well as basic research. We believe these data provide a preliminary indication of the connections between specific universities, university systems, national laboratories, and the DoE SBIR/STTR programs.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
×
Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
×

TABLE F-13 Connections to Research Institutions (RIs), Reported by 2014 Survey Respondents

Percentage of Respondents
Overall SBIR Awardees STTR Awardees
The PI for this project was at the time of the project an RI faculty member 1 0 10
The PI for this project was at the time of the project an RI adjunct faculty member 2 2 3
Faculty member(s) or adjunct faculty member(s) worked on this project in a role other than PI 29 26 47
Graduate students worked on this project 25 21 50
The technology for this project was licensed from an RI 5 4 13
The technology for this project was originally developed at an RI by one of the participants in this project 9 6 30
An RI was a subcontractor on this project 35 29 77
None of the above 50 57 7
N (Number of Respondents) 244 214 30

NOTE: Numbers do not sum to 100 percent because multiple responses were permitted.

SOURCE: 2014 Survey, Question 71.

Finally, as shown in Table F-15 68 percent of companies responding to the survey indicated that at least one founder had an academic background, and 31 percent of responding companies reported that at least one founder was most recently employed by a research institution (see Table F-16).

SBIR/STTR Fostering Innovative Companies

Technological innovation can be stimulated by fostering innovative companies. The SBIR/STTR programs have a range of effects on companies

Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
×

which affect their ability to work within the innovation ecology of the agency or more generally. In addition, data about companies can help to define the technological space in which the SBIR/STTR programs operate. In addition, a review of the SBIR/STTR share of overall company activities can provide insights into the degree of dependence on SBIR/STTR for individual companies.

Impact on Company Formation

SBIR/STTR can have a profoundly catalytic impact on company

TABLE F-14 Research Institutions Mentioned by Two or More 2014 Survey Respondents

Number of Mentions
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory 10
Brookhaven National Laboratory 6
Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory 5
Argonne National Laboratory 4
University of California, Los Angeles 4
University of Colorado 4
The Ohio State University 4
University of Colorado 3
Stanford Linear Accelerator Center 3
University of Illinois 3
University of Maine 3
Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility 2
Boston College 2
Case Western Reserve University 2
Montana State University 2
Georgia Institute of Technology 2
University of Texas 2
University of California, Berkeley 2
Florida State University 2
Illinois Institute of Technology 2
University of Massachusetts, Lowell 2
Massachusetts Institute of Technology 2
Arizona State University 2
University of Michigan 2
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory 2
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory 2
Old Dominion University 2

SOURCE: 2014 Survey, Question 72.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
×

formation. Twelve percent of companies responding to the 2014 Survey were founded because of the SBIR/STTR programs, and a further 33 percent were formed in part because of the program (see Table F-17).

SBIR/STTR Share of R&D Effort and Company Revenues

The survey asked respondents to estimate how much of their company’s total R&D effort (defined as man-hours of work for scientists and

TABLE F-15 Number of Academic Founders, Reported by 2014 Survey Responding Companies

Number of Founders with an Academic Background Percentage of Responding Companies
Overall SBIR Awardees STTR Awardees
0 32 31 40
1 40 40 42
2 17 17 16
3 5 6 1
4 4 4 0
5 or more 2 3 0
Mean 1 1 1
Median 1 1 1
N (Number of Responding Companies) 125 110 15

NOTE: In cases where company information, as opposed to individual project information, was collected, multiple responses from the the same company were averaged.

SOURCE: 2014 Survey, Question 5.

TABLE F-16 Most Recent Previous Employment of Founders, Reported by 2014 Survey Responding Companies

Most recent employment of the company founders prior to founding the company Percentage of Responding Companies
Overall SBIR Awardees STTR Awardees
Other private company 68 68 69
Research institution 31 31 35
FFRDCs or National Laboratories 9 8 15
Government 5 6 0
Other 8 9 0
N (Number of Responding Companies) 133 117 16

NOTE (1): In cases where company information, as opposed to individual project information, was collected, multiple responses from the the same company were averaged.

NOTE (2): Values do not sum to 100 percent because multiple responses were permitted.

SOURCE: 2014 Survey, Question 6.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
×

engineers) was devoted to SBIR- or STTR-funded projects. Overall, 40 percent of respondents indicated that 10 percent or less of the company’s total R&D effort was devoted to SBIR or STTR activities during the most recent fiscal year (at the time of the survey), and 23 percent indicated greater than one-half (see Table F-18).

These data closely correspond to responses from another survey question, which (again from the perspective of the time of the survey) asked what percentage of company revenues during the most recent fiscal was accounted for by SBIR/STTR funding. As shown in Table F-19, 27 percent of companies reported receiving zero SBIR or STTR funding during the most recent completed fiscal year, and 25 percent reported receiving greater than 50 percent of their revenue from SBIR or STTR. Two percent of companies were entirely dependent on SBIR/STTR funding.

TABLE F-17 SBIR/STTR Impact of SBIR/STTR Programs on Company Formation, Reported by 2014 Survey Responding Companies

Was the company founded because of the SBIR/STTR Program? Percentage of Responding Companies
Overall SBIR Awardees STTR Awardees
Yes 12 11 20
In part 33 32 44
No 55 57 36
N (Number of Responding Companies) 133 117 16

NOTE: In cases where company information, as opposed to individual project information, was collected, multiple responses from the the same company were averaged.

SOURCE: 2014 Survey, Question 7.

TABLE F-18 Percentage of R&D Effort Funded by SBIR/STTR for Most Recent Fiscal Year, Reported at Time 2014 Survey by Responding Companies

Percentage of man-hours of company scientists and engineers devoted to SBIR/STTR activities Percentage of Responding Companies
Overall SBIR Awardees STTR Awardees
0 25 27 13
1-10 15 13 26
11-25 14 14 11
26-50 23 24 16
51-75 11 11 12
76-100 12 11 22
N (Number of Responding Companies) 128 113 15

NOTE: In cases where company information, as opposed to individual project information, was collected, multiple responses from the the same company were averaged.

SOURCE: 2014 Survey, Question 10.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
×

TABLE F-19 Percentage of Company Revenues from SBIR/STTR Funding for Most Recent Fiscal Year, Reported at Time of 2014 Survey by Responding Companies

Percentage of Company Revenues that was SBIR/STTR Funding Percentage of Responding Companies
Overall SBIR Awardees STTR Awardees
0 27 29 13
1-10 18 18 20
11-25 14 15 12
26-50 17 17 18
51-75 13 12 19
76-99 10 9 18
100 2 2 0
100 100 100
N (Number of Responding Companies) 129 114 15

NOTE (1): In cases where company information, as opposed to individual project information, was collected, multiple responses from the the same company were averaged.

NOTE (2): Because survey sample includes inactive awards, some respondents reported zero SBIR/STTR revenues for the most recent fiscal year.

SOURCE: 2014 Survey, Question 9.

Prior Use of SBIR/STTR Awards

Although a more linear interpretation of the process of innovation would imply that ideas are tested in Phase I, prototyped in Phase II, and commercialized in Phase III, many projects require multiple iterations, sometimes restarting with an earlier phase, or multiple efforts are needed to meet specific problems.

The 2014 Survey asked respondents to indicate how many SBIR/STTR awards they had received that were related to the project and technology being surveyed. As shown in Table F-20, 31 percent of respondents reported receiving no other related SBIR/STTR Phase I award related to the surveyed project. Twenty-two percent received at least three other related Phase I awards. Relatedly, Table F-21 shows that slightly less than three-quarters of respondents reported receiving one or more Phase II awards related to the project, and 12 percent of respondents reported receiving at least three. These data support the view that innovative products emerge from clusters of activity, rather than from simple straight line development from Phase I to Phase II to commercialization.

Long-term Impacts on Companies Receiving SBIR/STTR Awards

Although SBIR/STTR awards have direct effects on specific projects, they can also have a longer-term effect on the trajectory of company development, creating capacity and in some cases providing a critical input that

Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
×

TABLE F-20 Additional SBIR or STTR Phase I Awards Related to the Surveyed Project, Reported by 2014 Survey Respondents

Number of Awards Percentage of Respondents
Overall SBIR Awardees STTR Awardees
0 31 32 23
1 or more 69 68 77
1 32 32 37
2 15 14 23
3 or 4 14 15 10
5 to 9 6 6 3
10 or more 2 2 3
Mean 2 2 2
Median 1 1 1
N (Number of Respondents) 236 206 30

SOURCE: 2014 Survey, Question 39.

TABLE F-21 Additional SBIR or STTR Phase II Awards Related to the Surveyed Project, Reported by 2014 Survey Respondents

Number of Awards Percentage of Respondents
Overall SBIR Awardees STTR Awardees
0 37 39 25
1 or more 63 61 75
1 35 33 50
2 16 17 14
3 or 4 9 9 7
5 to 9 2 2 0
10 or more 1 1 4
Mean 1 1 1
Median 1 1 1
N (Number of Respondents) 228 200 28

SOURCE: 2014 Survey, Question 39.

transforms long-term outcomes. The survey asked respondents about these impacts directly and results are summarized in Table F-22. Respondents reported an overwhelmingly positive impact. Overall, 96 percent of respondents reported a positive effect, and 61 percent reported a highly positive or transformative impact. Of the 192 companies responding to the survey question, two reported negative effects.

Additional Company-Level Information: Industry Sector

The 2014 Survey asked about other potentially significant aspects of the company. Previous analyses of SBIR/STTR did not address a potentially

Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
×

important intervening variable: industry sector. It is quite possible that commercialization outcomes may be affected by the average cycle time of product development in different sectors. For example, product cycle time is much shorter for software than for materials or medical devices. Interestingly, only 53 percent of SBIR/STTR awarded at DoE reported that they worked in the energy sector. Table F-23 shows the distribution of responses by sector.

This question was designed to provide an approximate map of activities by sector. There is considerable overlap between some categories, and respondents would have substantial leeway to define sectors differently, so these findings should be viewed as highly preliminary. A few key points emerge:

  • Just over half of companies responding are primarily working in energy technology.
  • Almost as many (48 percent) report working in engineering, with the majority of these in scientific instruments
  • About a quarter are working in aerospace and defense
  • Within the energy sector, a quarter are in other unspecified areas, 20 percent are in energy efficiency, 18 percent are in renewable energy, and 11 percent in energy storage and distribution.

PI Demographics

The committee observed that the age profile of PIs within the program may need to shift with the aging of the baby boomers. Accordingly, the 2014 Survey asked the respondents to report their age at the time of the award. The age distribution is presented in Table F-24. Eight percent of respondents reported being younger than 35 at the time of the award, and the median age at the time of award reported by respondents was 47. Twelve percent of respondents were age 60 or older at the time of award.

TABLE F-22 Long-term Impacts on Recipient Companies, Reported by 2014 Survey Respondents

Percentage of Respondents
Overall SBIR Awardees STTR Awardees
Had a highly positive or transformative effect 61 60 67
Had a positive effect 35 35 30
Had no effect 4 5 0
Had a negative effect 0 0 3
Had a highly negative or disastrous effect 0 0 0
Number of Respondents 248 218 30

SOURCE: 2014 Survey, Question 57.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
×

TABLE F-23 Distribution of Responses by Sector Phase, Reported by 2014 Survey Respondents

Percentage of Responses
Overall SBIR Awardees STTR Awardees
Aerospace and Defense 23 23 23

Aerospace

12 12 10

Defense-specific products and services

17 17 16
Energy and the Environment 53 54 48

Renewable energy production (solar, wind, geothermal, bio-energy, wave)

18 17 19

Energy storage and distribution

11 11 13

Energy efficiency

19.6 20 16

Other energy or environmental products and services

25 25 23
Engineering 48 46 55

Engineering services

9 10 7

Scientific instruments and measuring equipment

29 27 42

Robotics

1 0 3

Sensors

13 14 10

Other engineering

10 10 10
Information Technology 8 6 16

Computers and peripheral equipment

1 10

Telecommunications equipment and services

2 1 10

Business and productivity software

1 1 0

Data processing and database software and services

1 1 0

Media products (including web-, print- and wireless-delivered content)

0 0 0

Other IT

2 2 3
Materials (including nanotechnology for materials) 19 19 19
Medical Technologies 14 15 10

Pharmaceuticals

1 0 3

Medical devices

7 7 7

Biotechnology (including therapeutic, diagnostic, combination)

3 3 0

Health IT (including mobile, big data, training modules)

0 0 0

Research tools

8 8 3

Education materials

0 0 0

Other medical products and services

3 3 3
Other (please specify) 15 13 23
N (Number of Respondents) 255 224 31

NOTE: Values do not sum to 100 percent because multiple responses were permitted.

SOURCE: 2014 Survey, Question 21.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
×

TABLE F-24 Age of Principal Investigator at Time of Award, Reported by 2014 Survey Respondents

Age of Principal Investigator at Time of Award Percentage of Respondents
Overall SBIR Awardees STTR Awardees
Under age 25 0 0 0
25 to 29 1 0 3
30 to 34 7 6 10
35 to 39 14 15 3
40 to 44 16 17 10
45 to 49 16 17 13
50 to 54 17 16 23
55 to 59 18 18 20
60 to 64 6 5 10
65 or older 6 5 7
Mean 48 48 50
Median 47 47 52
N (Number of Respondents) 256 226 30

SOURCE: 2014 Survey, Question 17.

The limited number of PIs at both ends of the age spectrum suggests a challenge for SBIR programs. Given that there is evidence that breakthrough technologies may be predominantly developed by younger scientists and engineers, do the limited number of awards for younger applicants indicate an over-reliance on track record during the selection process? Do changing demographics in the United States indicate that successful research programs will need to engage older scientists and engineers as they become a larger percentage of the total science and engineering workforce?

Overview: Stimulating Technological Innovation

What emerges from these data is a picture of companies that are dynamic centers of technological innovation, a considerable amount of which is protected through the patent system. Sixty-eight percent of companies reported receipt of at least one patent related to their work under SBIR/STTR contracts, while 39 percent reported receipt of at least one patent related to the surveyed project.

SBIR/STTR companies participate at a high level in the standard form of technical knowledge dissemination: publishing in peer-reviewed journals. Seventy-three percent of respondents indicated that at least one scientific paper had been published for the technology developed as a result of the surveyed project, and 22 percent reported publication of at least 5 such articles.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
×

Finally, some SBIR/STTR companies are closely connected to the universities. Nearly one-half of respondents reported a university connection on the surveyed project, across a number of different modalities, and 11 universities were specifically mentioned as playing a role in at least three reported projects. These findings suggest that SBIR and STTR may in some cases play a potentially important role in supporting the practical implementation of university research.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Annex to Chapter 5: Extended 2014 Survey Data." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR/STTR at the Department of Energy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23406.
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The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is one of the largest examples of U.S. public-private partnerships, and was established in 1982 to encourage small businesses to develop new processes and products and to provide quality research in support of the U.S. government’s many missions. The Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program was created in 1992 by the Small Business Research and Development Enhancement Act to expand joint venture opportunities for small businesses and nonprofit research institutions by requiring small business recipients to collaborate formally with a research institution. The U.S. Congress tasked the National Research Council with undertaking a comprehensive study of how the SBIR and STTR programs have stimulated technological innovation and used small businesses to meet federal research and development needs, and with recommending further improvements to the programs. In the first round of this study, an ad hoc committee prepared a series of reports from 2004 to 2009 on the SBIR and STTR programs at the five agencies responsible for 96 percent of the programs’ operations -- including the Department of Energy (DoE). Building on the outcomes from the first round, this second round presents the committee’s second review of the DoE SBIR program’s operations.

Public-private partnerships like SBIR and STTR are particularly important since today's knowledge economy is driven in large part by the nation's capacity to innovate. One of the defining features of the U.S. economy is a high level of entrepreneurial activity. Entrepreneurs in the United States see opportunities and are willing and able to assume risk to bring new welfare-enhancing, wealth-generating technologies to the market. Yet, although discoveries in areas such as genomics, bioinformatics, and nanotechnology present new opportunities, converting these discoveries into innovations for the market involves substantial challenges. The American capacity for innovation can be strengthened by addressing the challenges faced by entrepreneurs.

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