Federal Research and Development

Contributions to and Results of the Small Business Technology Transfer Program Gao ID: GAO-01-766R June 4, 2001

Research and development are major factors in the growth and progress of industry and the national economy. However, basic research done by the nation's research institutions--universities and colleges, federal laboratories, and nonprofit research centers--may not translate into marketable technologies. To link the ideas and resources of the research institutions with the commercialization experience of small businesses, Congress authorized the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Pilot Program in 1992 and reauthorized it in fiscal year 1997. The STTR program is scheduled to expire in September 2001. Each of the five participating federal agencies manages its own program, while the Small Business Administration plays a central administrative role, issuing policy directives and annual reports for the program. The program, which requires that small businesses partner with a nonprofit research institution, is closely modeled to the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program. In preparation for the review and potential reauthorization of the STTR program, this correspondence identifies participating companies' views on (1) the contributions that the companies and the research institutions made to research and development, (2) the results of research and development, and (3) options for the future relationship between the STTR and SBIR programs. The companies reported that both they and the research institutions contributed significantly to research and development. The companies also reported various results, including sales of a product, process, or service; the receipt of additional developmental funding; patents granted; and discontinuation of projects. The companies also preferred maintaining the current separation of the STTR and SBIR programs.

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