Cover of An Assessment of the SBIR Program at the National Science Foundation

An Assessment of the SBIR Program at the National Science Foundation

Editor: Charles W Wessner; .

Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); .
ISBN-13: 978-0-309-10487-6ISBN-10: 0-309-10487-4
Copyright © 2008, National Academy of Sciences.


The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program was created in 1982 through the Small Business Innovation Development Act. As the SBIR program approached its twentieth year of operation, the U.S. Congress requested the National Research Council (NRC) of 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 to make recommendations with respect to the SBIR program. Mandated as a part of SBIR's reauthorization in late 2000, the NRC study has assessed the SBIR program as administered at the five federal agencies that together make up some 96 percent of SBIR program expenditures. The agencies, in order of program size, are the Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation.

Based on that legislation, and after extensive consultations with both Congress and agency officials, the NRC focused its study on two overarching questions. First, how well do the agency SBIR programs meet four societal objectives of interest to Congress? That is: (1) to stimulate technological innovation; (2) to increase private-sector commercialization of innovations; (3) to use small business to meet federal research and development needs; and (4) to foster and encourage participation by minority and disadvantaged persons in technological innovation. Second, can the management of agency SBIR programs be made more effective? Are there best practices in agency SBIR programs that may be extended to other agencies' SBIR programs?