• Join your peers at SSTI's 2024 Annual Conference!

    Join us December 10-12 in Arizona to connect with and learn from your peers working around the country to strengthen their regional innovation economies. Visit ssticonference.org for more information and to register today.

  • Become an SSTI Member

    As the most comprehensive resource available for those involved in technology-based economic development, SSTI offers the services that are needed to help build tech-based economies.  Learn more about membership...

  • Subscribe to the SSTI Weekly Digest

    Each week, the SSTI Weekly Digest delivers the latest breaking news and expert analysis of critical issues affecting the tech-based economic development community. Subscribe today!

Useful Stats: SBIR/STTR awards by metro (2013-2017)

May 31, 2018
By: Jonathan Dworin

Last week, SSTI examined the geography of “America’s Seed Fund,” the SBIR/STTR awards, on a state-by-state basis. A look at how the more than 25,500 awards were distributed at the regional level over the five-year period from 2013 to 2017 yields additional insight. The metropolitan areas with the largest concentrations of SBIR/STTR awards include knowledge hubs with large universities and access to federal R&D, such as Boston, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C. Smaller regions with a large federal R&D presence, like Huntsville, Alabama, Santa Maria, California and Dayton, Ohio also rank highly.

Compared to venture capital, the geography of SBIR/STTR deals is considerably less concentrated. Overall, less than half (44.2 percent) of the SBIR/STTR award dollars distributed between 2013 and 2017 went to the top 10 metropolitan areas. The top 10 metropolitan areas represent approximately 80 percent of all venture capital dollars, according to CityLab.

The map below includes the 254 metropolitan areas for which SBIR/STTR and Gross Metropolitan Product (GMP) data are available. The interactive, searchable map below highlights the average SBIR/STTR awards per year from 2013-2017 for a metro area, how 2017 compared to previous years, the concentration of SBIR/STTR awards, and the area’s ranking in these categories.




The metropolitan areas averaging the most SBIR awards per year between 2013 and 2017 were Boston (528 awards per year), Los Angeles (401 awards per year), and Washington D.C. (316 awards per year). These metro areas also had the most SBIR/STTR awards in 2017.

Smaller metropolitan areas also ranked highly, including 9th ranked Boulder, Colorado (116 awards per year), 10th ranked Huntsville, Alabama (89 awards per year), 15th ranked Santa Maria, California (75 awards per year), 17th ranked Dayton, Ohio (74 awards per year), and 19th ranked Ann Arbor, Michigan (65 awards per year).

Furthermore, three micropolitan areas ranked in the top 100: Claremont-Lebanon, New Hampshire-Vermont (60 awards on average per year), Bozeman, Montana (21 awards on average per year), and Houghton, Michigan (10 awards on average per year).  Each of these three micropolitan areas are anchored by research universities: Dartmouth College, Montana State University, and Michigan Tech University, respectively.

SBIR/STTR awards tended to concentrate in college towns and other areas with a large federal R&D presence. One metric for concentration is location quotients (LQ), which measures the relative specialization of a location in a particular sector. In this case, an LQ of 1.0 means that the total value of SBIR/STTR awards in a metro is the same share as its gross metropolitan product (GMP) is for the national economy. An LQ greater than one means that SBIR/STTR awards are more concentrated in a metro area than average, while an LQ lower than one means that it is less concentrated.

The metropolitan areas with the highest location quotients signifying a concentration of SBIR/STTR awards were Blacksburg, Virginia (17.6), Ithaca, New York (14.7), and Boulder, Colorado (13.8). These areas have a larger number of SBIR/STTR awards, relative to their contributions to the national economy. SBIR/STTR awards also concentrate in areas with large federal R&D presence, even without major research universities. For example, the Huntsville, Alabama (10.0), Santa Fe, New Mexico (8.8), Santa Maria, California (8.4), and Dayton, Ohio (5.2) metropolitan areas all rank among the top 15 in location quotient. Huntsville is home to a NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Santa Fe is located near the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the others are located near large air force bases: Vandenberg in Santa Maria and Wright-Patterson in Dayton.

Among the 50 largest metropolitan areas, Boston (4.0), San Diego (3.0), Washington D.C. (1.9), Salt Lake City (1.7) and Austin (1.6) had the highest concentration of SBIR/STTR awards. Alternatively, SBIR/STTR awards make up a very small share of the overall regional economies in the Tulsa, Las Vegas, and Jacksonville metropolitan areas.

Several of the metropolitan areas with the most awards over the period saw sharp declines in 2017.  The Los Angeles (108.5 deal decrease), Boston (60 deal decrease), and Washington D.C. (41 deal decrease) metropolitan areas experienced the largest decreases in SBIR/STTR deals in 2017 compared to their previous four-year average. In 2017, the Durham-Chapel Hill (19.5 deal increase), Minneapolis-St. Paul (11.8 deal increase), and San Francisco (10.5 deal increase) metropolitan areas experienced the biggest increases in SBIR/STTR awards compared to their average over the previous four years.

Data on SBIR/STTR awards at the metropolitan level can be viewed in additional detail in the attached excel spreadsheet. A future Digest article will explore strategies to support current, former, and potential SBIR/STTR companies.


useful stats, metros, sbirFile Useful Stats 053118.xlsx