Project-level Outcomes

Until recently, there were no available data on outcomes from SBIR programs through which to compare the performances of venture-funded and non-venture-funded firms. Recent surveys by the NRC and the NIH, however, provide at least initial indications of relative outcomes.18

The NIH survey generated 768 responses (1 per firm) and the NRC 496 responses from 368 firms.19 Together, the surveys generated responses covering at least one project from 861 firms that received Phase II awards during this period.20

Firm-level Outcomes

While the NRC/NIH data provide important insights into outcomes from specific surveyed projects, it is also useful to generate a different perspective based on the development of the firm, rather than an individual project.

Utilizing the Hoover’s database of small firms, we developed a dataset of current revenue and employee data, which provides a useful proxy for the overall commercial success of the firm.21 Unfortunately, Hoover’s does not maintain time-series data on individual firms, so our metrics were based on the size of firm revenues and number of employees as of the most recent data available from Hoover’s (in most cases, for 2006).

As each data point in this dataset had to be collected manually, it was not cost effective to collect individual data on more than 1,200 firms. Accordingly, while we collected data for all 183 venture-funded firms,22 we limited data collection for non-venture-funded firms to an equivalent random sample: 35 firms among the top 200 most prolific Phase II winners, and 148 firms from among the pool of firms that were not among the most prolific winners and were not venture-funded.


See National Institutes of Health, National Survey to Evaluate the NIH SBIR Program: Final Report, op. cit. The NRC survey results for NIH are presented in National Research Council, An Assessment of the SBIR Program at the National Institutes of Health, C. Wessner, op. cit.


There is some overlap between the projects surveyed by the NIH and NRC. However, as project ID data is not directly comparable, it is not possible to determine exactly the dimensions of that overlap.


Not every firm responded to the survey questionnaires. The 861 firms are a subset of the 1,536 firms that won Phase II awards 1992-2002.


The Hoover’s database of small firms is an extension of the well-known Dunn and Bradstreet database. It is the most comprehensive source of information on small businesses in the United States. Even so, it offers only a current snapshot (no historical data), and is not entirely comprehensive as it, in turn, is based in part on survey data. Hoover’s Small Business Database can be accessed on line at <>.


Table 3-4 derives the total number of firms that were excluded or possibly excluded as a direct impact of the SBA directive.

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