The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, created in 1982, now allocates 2.5% of 11 federal agencies’ external R&D budgets to fund R&D projects by small businesses to meet mission needs and commercialize the results of federally funded research. The program now makes awards of over $2.3 billion annually. Despite the size and longevity of the program, it had never benefitted from a comprehensive review until now.
To provide such an assessment, the Congress asked the National Academies to conduct a “comprehensive study of how the SBIR program has stimulated technological innovation and used small businesses to meet federal research and development needs” and make recommendations on potential improvements to the program. To meet this mandate, the NRC Committee charged with this study commissioned extensive original research on the operation, challenges, and achievements of the SBIR program.
The project, the first phase of a two-phase National Research Council assessment of the SBIR program, has released a series of assessments of the program operations at the five leading R&D agencies representing some 96% of program expenditure. These agencies include the Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Science Foundation. The project has also resulted in an analysis of the effect of the Small Business Administration's eligibility rules with regard to the participation in SBIR by firms backed by venture capital, and in an analysis on the DoD SBIR Fast Track Initiative. Workshop reports have included SBIR: Program Diversity and Assessment Challenges and SBIR and the Phase III Challenge of Commercialization. Finally, the study has also prepared an additional report that provides a comprehensive overview of the program. These reports are available on The National Academies Press Web site.
Charles W. Wessner, Ph.D.
The National Academies
500 5th Street, NW
Mail Stop W547
Washington, DC 20001
General questions and comments about the project should be sent to David Dawson