Committee on Capitalizing on Science, Technology, and Innovation:
An Assessment of the Small Business Innovation Research Program—Phase II
Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy
Policy and Global Affairs
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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This material is based upon work supported by NASA under award No. NNX07AJ53G.
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-37787-4
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-37787-0
Digital Object Identifier: 10.17226/21797
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Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. SBIR at NASA. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21797.
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Committee on Capitalizing on Science, Technology,
and Innovation: An Assessment of the Small Business Innovation
Research Program—Phase II
Jacques S. Gansler (NAE), Chair
Chairman and CEO
Ameritech Chair of Economic Development
Director of the Institute for Development Strategies
Executive Chairman, ret.
Thomas J. Bond
Grant and Proposal Director
Association for Manufacturing Technology
Founding General Partner
J. Michael Brick
Vice President and Co-Director of Survey Methods
Gail H. Cassell (NAM)
Department of Global Health and Social Medicine
Harvard Medical School
M. Christina Gabriel
University Energy Partnership
Charles E. Kolb (NAE)
President and Chief Executive Officer
Aerodyne Research, Inc.
Professor of Statistics
Department of Statistics
Director, Survey Research Center
Oregon State University
Henry Linsert, Jr.
Chairman and CEO
Columbia Biosciences Corporation
W. Clark McFadden II
Senior Counsel, International Trade and Compliance
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP
Duncan T. Moore (NAE)
Vice Provost for Entrepreneurship
Rudolf and Hilda Kingslake Professor of Optical Engineering
The Institute of Optics
University of Rochester
Toucan Capital Corporation
Dean, School of Business
Professor of Management
University at Albany, SUNY
Jeffrey E. Sohl
Professor and Director of the Center for Venture Research
Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics
University of New Hampshire
Tyrone C. Taylor
Capitol Advisors on Technology, LLC
John P. Walsh
Professor of Public Policy
School of Public Policy
Georgia Institute of Technology
Patrick H. Windham
Technology Policy International
Sujai J. Shivakumar
David E. Dierksheide
Karolina E. Konarzewska
(through September 2015)
Gail E. Cohen
Frederic A. Lestina
Senior Program Assistant
For the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, this project was overseen by the Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy (STEP), a standing board established in 1991. The mandate of the Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy is to advise federal, state, and local governments and inform the public about economic and related public policies to promote the creation, diffusion, and application of new scientific and technical knowledge to enhance the productivity and competitiveness of the U.S. economy and foster economic prosperity for all Americans. The STEP Board and its committees marshal research and the expertise of scholars, industrial managers, investors, and former public officials in a wide range of policy areas that affect the speed and direction of scientific and technological change and their contributions to the growth of the U.S. and global economies. Results are communicated through reports, conferences, workshops, briefings, and electronic media subject to the procedures of the Academies to ensure their authoritativeness, independence, and objectivity. The members and staff of the STEP Board* are listed below:
Richard K. Lester, Chair
Japan Steel Industry Professor
Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Former U.S. Senator, New Mexico
Ellen R. Dulberger
Dulberger Enterprises, LLC
Alan M. Garber (NAM)
Ralph E. Gomory (NAS/NAE)
Stern School of Business
New York University
The Milton Friedman Professor of Economics and the College
Director, Energy Policy Institute at Chicago
Department of Economics
The University of Chicago
John L. Hennessy (NAS/NAE)
David T. Morgenthaler
* As of April 2016.
Luis M. Proenza
University of Akron
Kathryn L. Shaw
Ernest C. Arbuckle Professor of Economics
Stanford Graduate School of Business
Patent Properties, Inc.
Gail E. Cohen
Paul T. Beaton
Senior Program Officer
Aqila A. Coulthurst
Associate Program Officer
David E. Dierksheide
Frederic A. Lestina
Senior Program Assistant
Senior Program Assistant
Sujai J. Shivakumar
Senior Program Officer
Today’s knowledge economy is driven in large part by the nation’s capacity to innovate and to implement innovations in an agile, secure, and cost-effective manner. A defining feature 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.1 The American capacity for innovation can be strengthened by addressing the challenges faced by entrepreneurs to take innovations into markets. Public-private partnerships are one means to help entrepreneurs bring new ideas to market.
The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is one of the largest examples of U.S. public-private partnerships. An underlying tenet of the program is that small businesses are a strong source of new ideas, and therefore economic growth, but that it is difficult to find financial support for these ideas in the early stages of their development and market implementation. The SBIR program was established in 1982 to encourage small businesses to develop new processes and products and to provide quality research and development in support of the U.S. government’s many missions. By involving qualified small businesses in the nation’s research and development (R&D) effort, SBIR grants stimulate innovative technologies to help federal agencies meet their specific functional needs in many areas, including health, the environment, and national defense.
1 See L.M. Branscomb, K.P. Morse, M. J. Roberts, and D. Boville, Managing Technical Risk: Understanding Private Sector Decision Making on Early Stage Technology Based Projects, Gaithersburg, MD: National Institute of Standards and Technology, 2000.
The U.S. Congress tasked the National Research Council (NRC)2 with undertaking a “comprehensive study of how the SBIR program has stimulated technological innovation and used small businesses to meet federal research and development needs” and with recommending further improvements to the program.3 In the first-round study, an expert committee prepared a series of reports from 2004 to 2009 on the Small Business Innovation Research program at the Department of Defense (DoD), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Energy (DoE), and the National Science Foundation (NSF)—the five agencies responsible for 96 percent of the program’s operations.4
Building on the outcomes from the first round, this second round, led by a new committee, examines topics of general policy interest that emerged during the first round as well as topics of specific interest to the individual agencies. The results will be published in reports of agency-specific and program-wide findings on the SBIR and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs to be submitted to the contracting agencies and Congress. In partial fulfillment of these objectives, this volume presents the committee’s review of the SBIR program’s operations at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).5
The current two-phase assessment of the SBIR program follows directly from an earlier analysis of public-private partnerships by the Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy (STEP). From 1990 to 2005, the Committee on Government-Industry Partnerships prepared 11 volumes reviewing the drivers of cooperation among industry, universities, and government; operational assessments of current programs; emerging needs at the intersection of biotechnology and information technology; the current experience of foreign government partnerships and opportunities for international cooperation; and the changing roles of government laboratories, universities, and other research organizations in the national innovation system. 6
2 Effective July 1, 2015, the institution is called the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. References in this report to the National Research Council are used in an historic context identifying programs prior to July 1.
3 See the SBIR Reauthorization Act of 2000 (H.R. 5667, Section 108).
4 For the overview report, see National Research Council, An Assessment of the SBIR Program, Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2008. See also National Research Council, An Assessment of the SBIR Program at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2009. The committee also prepared reports on the SBIR program at DoD, DoE, NIH, and NSF.
6 For a summary of the topics covered and main lessons learned, see National Research Council, Government-Industry Partnerships for the Development of New Technologies: Summary Report, Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2002.
This analysis of public-private partnerships includes two published studies of the SBIR program. Drawing from a 1998 workshop, the first report, The Small Business Innovation Research Program: Challenges and Opportunities, examined the origins of the program and identified operational challenges to its future effectiveness.7 Research conducted for this 1999 report focused on the minimal academic research on the SBIR program.
After the release of this initial report, the DoD asked the committee to compare the operations of its Fast Track Initiative with those of its regular SBIR program. The resulting report, The Small Business Innovation Research Program: An Assessment of the Department of Defense Fast Track Initiative, relying on case study and survey research, found that the DoD SBIR program was achieving its legislated goals. The report also found that the Fast Track Initiative was achieving its objective of greater commercialization and recommended that it be continued and expanded where appropriate.8 The report recommended that the SBIR program overall would benefit from further research and analysis, a recommendation subsequently adopted by Congress.
On behalf of The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, we express our appreciation for and recognition of the valuable insights and close cooperation extended by NASA staff, the survey respondents, and case study interviewees, among others. The committee gives particular thanks to its lead researcher, Robin Gaster of Innovation Competitions LLC, to Rosalie Ruegg of TIA Consulting, and to Peter Grunwald of Grunwald Associates LLC, which conducted the surveys and described the results presented in this volume. David Dierksheide of the STEP staff is especially recognized for his important contributions to operation of this study and the preparation of this report.
Acknowledgment of Reviewers
This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study
7 See National Research Council, The Small Business Innovation Research Program: Challenges and Opportunities, Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1999.
8 See National Research Council, The Small Business Innovation Research Program: An Assessment of the Department of Defense Fast Track Initiative, Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2000.
charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the process.
We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Philip Auerswald, George Mason University; Fred Block, University of California, Davis; Thomas Crabb, Orbital Technologies Corporation; Earl Dowell, Duke University; David Finifter, College of William Mary; Thomas Irvine, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics; Martin Kaszubowski, Old Dominion University; Bruce Marcus, TRW, Inc. (Retired); Anthony Mulligan, Hydronalix, Inc; Colm O'Muircheartaigh, University of Chicago; Marcia Rieke, University of Arizona; George Sutton, SPARTA (Retired); and John Watson, University of California, San Diego.
Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Ed Przybylowicz, Eastman Kodak (Retired) and Irwin Feller, Pennsylvania State University. Appointed by the Academies, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.
Jacques S. Gansler
|Sujai J. Shivakumar|