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The Small Business Innovation Research Program: Challenges and Opportunities Small businesses have increasingly been recognized as a source of innovation, and one way by which the federal government encourages such innovation is through the Small Business Innovation Research Program. SBIR sets aside 2.5 percent of federal agencies' R&D budgets for R&D grants to small business. Although the program's budget is approximately $2 billion in 2004, SBIR has been subject to relatively little outside review. As a first step toward better evaluation of SBIR, the Academies Government-Industry Partnerships committee, led by Intel’s Gordon Moore, convened policymakers, academic researchers, and representatives from small business to discuss the program's history and rationale, review existing research, and identify areas for further research and program improvements.
The Small Business Innovation Research Program: An Assessment of the Department of Defense Fast Track Initiative In 1992, Congress for the first time explicitly directed federal agencies making SBIR grants to use commercial potential as a criterion for granting SBIR awards. In response, the Department of Defense developed the SBIR Fast Track initiative, which provides expedited decision making for SBIR awards to companies that have commitments from outside investors. To verify the effectiveness of this initiative, the DoD asked the STEP Board to assess the operation of Fast Track. This volume of original field research includes case studies comparing Fast Track and non-Fast Track firms, a large survey of SBIR awardees, and statistical analyses of the impact of regular SBIR and Fast Track awards. Collectively, the commissioned papers and the findings and recommendations represent a significant and original contribution to understanding the positive impact of the SBIR program on firm formation and Defense missions.
The Advanced Technology Program: Assessing Outcomes This report examines the operations of the ATP, reviews its extensive assessment program, and provides the STEP Board’s findings concerning the ATP's operations and recommendations for potential improvements to the program. The report includes a summary of a major evaluative conference held in April 2000 as well as seven analytical papers. These include surveys of the industry participants or users of the ATP program, a summary of the results of 50 awards, detailed assessments of major joint ventures, and a description of the current selection process. This report is the most comprehensive study to date of the program's origins, operations, achievements, and assessment. Its conclusion: the program works.
Government-Industry Partnerships for the Development of New Technologies: Summary Report As one reviewer noted, “This is a very valuable and timely report that offers a solid assessment of several current cooperative government/private sector mechanisms to stimulate the creation and commercialization of important new technologies.” Drawing on the results of the STEP Board’s comprehensive review of partnerships, this report summarizes 10 study volumes focused on different types of federal government-industry technology partnerships. In addition to its assessments of specific programs, this summary report puts these cooperative efforts in historical and international perspective. Importantly, the report synthesizes the best-practice lessons from U.S. public-private partnerships, emphasizes the importance of this form of public-private cooperation, and underscores the need for ongoing, objective assessments of such programs.