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Report: NIH SBIR/STTR program supported 99 drugs, numerous successful companies over 25 years

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) supported the development of 99 drugs from 1996-2020 — a total that includes 16 percent of all such treatments that made a “significant” advance over available medicines.

SSTI analysis reveals SBIR “mills” take outsized portion of the program’s awards

SBA efforts to reign in abuse of the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) program continue, yet companies that seem to use SBIR awards as a primary revenue stream rather than a means to creating future revenue paths through new product and process innovations persist, based on SSTI’s review of award data. Known as “SBIR mills” many of these companies appear to be clustered geographically in specific metropolitan areas, many of which house major federal labs or research centers, the analysis of SBIR data reveals.  This suggests, from a policy perspective, that the federal agencies could be doing much more to curtail the mills and redirect awards into companies more consistently focused on turning innovation into products, profits and jobs.

The data reveals the extent of abuse by the small number of SBIR mills among all awardees is not insignificant: awards made to potential mills account for more than 21 percent of all awards made during the period from 2009 to 2019.

Useful Stats: Agency SBIR/STTR awards by state, 2009-2019

Consideration of a state’s trends in the distribution of SBIR awards by federal agency may help program leaders and policy makers optimize the design and performance for state and regional support of innovation-based startups. For instance, knowing which federal agencies provide the dominant share of awards in a state can inform a program’s marketing and outreach efforts, and, more importantly for the startups being assisted, it can guide recruiting the right mix of mentors and knowledge assets to a program’s technical assistance capabilities. The data also can inform efforts to attract investors and potential customers with similar alignment of interests with companies in a state’s SBIR portfolio. SSTI’s focus this week on the agency distribution of SBIR awards by state over the past decade reveals some interesting insights. Next week we will take a deeper dive into the data and examine awardee distribution trends at the regional level.

An exclusive SSTI analysis reveals that for the 10-year period from 2009 to 2018, two federal agencies were the top contributors to SBIR/STTR spending in every state and the District of Columbia. The Department of Defense (DoD) accounted for the greatest SBIR/STTR spending in 29 states while the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was the greatest funder in 22 states. This trend remains the same when including 2019 award data, although it is important to note that as of the writing of this article, DoD’s complete 2019 SBIR/STTR data was not available.

Where are the women? An examination of women's participation in the SBIR/STTR program

A recent report by the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) found that participation rates in the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) programs by women-owned small businesses (WOSB) has essentially remained flat since 2011. Although participation rates vary by awarding agency, the report highlights several barriers faced by women entrepreneurs. Despite the gloomy findings, the report features promising practices from entrepreneurial support organizations (ESOs) that may “right the ship” in supporting women entrepreneurs through the SBIR/STTR program.

Updated SBIR/STTR website more organized and accessible

The Small Business Administration (SBA) recently rolled out a new website for the SBIR/STTR program which SBA administers. Reorganized and including new landing pages for entrepreneurs, support organizations, and federal agencies, the new page provides quicker and easier access to the right information.

Useful Stats: Measuring NIH SBIR/STTR Awards by State, 2019

In this week’s edition of Useful Stats, we take a look at NIH’s SBIR/STTR program by state, including the success rate of applications, the share SBIR awards make up of NIH funding to for-profit companies by state, and the total number of awards by state. It should be noted that SSTI was able to prepare this information because of the excellent transparency of information that NIH offers on its website, a model that should be replicated by other federal agencies.

Innovation on hold for 1-out-of-4 SBIR winners

Federal agencies fail, on average, 24 percent of the time to notify applicant small businesses of award decisions within required deadlines. A small business has a zero percent chance of being able to plan to start an innovation project within six months if they apply to ARPA-E (the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency) or the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, both of which never met the deadline. 

SSTI partners with NSF to bring you latest in funding, entrepreneurial support

We are excited to be partnering with NSF during SSTI’s Annual Conference, Sept.9 through 11 in Providence, Rhode Island, to bring you the latest information and ideas on SBIR/STTR and university/industry partnerships.

Air Force Pitch Days showing signs of early success, 10 more scheduled in 2019

In response to its shrinking industrial base and having identified a gap in its ability to rapidly acquire and deploy innovative technologies, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) recently made some changes to its SBIR/STTR program. The new Pitch Days have already met with success and 10 more Pitch Days have been scheduled in 2019. The USAF expects to make its roughly $660 million of annual SBIR/STTR funding more easily available to a greater number of startup companies, thereby greatly expanding its industrial base, encouraging innovation and small business generation, and filling the innovation void left by the large prime contractors.

SBIR Funding to Reach $1.1 Billion

Funds available for the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program are estimated to top $1.1 billion in FY97 if the President’s budget request is enacted. With FY96 budget appropriations still pending for some agencies, SBIR managers are hesitant to project FY97 set asides for their programs, but in interviews with SSTI staff, the managers provided projections for FY97 based on the President’s budget request.

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