Federal Research and Development

Contributions to and Results of the Small Business Technology Transfer Program Gao ID: GAO-01-867T June 21, 2001

Research and Development (R&D) is vital to the long-term health of industry and the national economy. To join the ideas and resources of the research institutions--universities and colleges, federal laboratories, and nonprofit research centers--with the commercialization experience of small businesses, Congress authorized the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Pilot Program in 1992 and reauthorized it in 1997. The STTR program is closely modeled on the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program. In preparation for the review and potential reauthorization of the STTR program, GAO obtained information from companies participating in the program. The companies reported that both they and the research institutions made considerable contributions to the R&D, such as knowledge or expertise essential to the project. They also created new partnerships that helped achieve technical objectives. However, the companies reported that they played a substantially greater role than the research institutions in originating the key ideas for the R&D. The companies further reported various results from the R&D, including the sales of products, processes, or services; the receipt of additional developmental funding beyond the original STTR funding; and patents granted. Finally, when asked for their view of the STTR program in relation to the SBIR program, about half of the companies expressed a preference for maintaining the current separation of the STTR and SBIR programs. This testimony summarized a June report. (GAO-01-766R)

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