From the management perspective, the rate of success also raises the question of appropriate expectations and desired levels of risktaking. A portfolio that always succeeds would not be investing in high-risk, high pay-off projects that push the technology envelope. A very high rate of “success” would, thus, paradoxically suggest an inappropriate use of the program. Understanding the nature of success and the appropriate benchmarks for a program with this focus is therefore important to understanding the SBIR program and the approach of this study.


This report sets out the Committee’s assessment of the SBIR program at the National Institutes of Health. The Committee’s detailed findings and recommendations are presented in the next chapter. The Committee finds that the NIH SBIR program largely meets it legislative objectives and makes recommendations to improve program outcomes. Chapter 3 reviews awards made by NIH. It analyzes data supplied by NIH, reflecting on both the advantages and disadvantages of NIH data gathering methods. Chapter 4 looks at the outcomes of the NIH SBIR program, including commercial sales and employment effects. Chapter 5 examines how the SBIR program at NIH is managed, including an explanation of the NIH award cycle, outreach efforts to attract the best applicants, and initiatives to support the commercialization of SBIR-funded technologies. Appendix A presents program data collected by NIH, DoD, and the NRC. Appendix B and C provide the template and results of the NRC Firm Survey and surveys of SBIR Phase I and Phase II projects. Appendix D presents illustrative case studies of firms participating in the NIH SBIR program. Finally, Appendix E provides a reference bibliography.

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