|Title||The effectiveness of the small business innovation research program within the Navy|
The goal of this dissertation is to identify emerging Small Business Innovative Research SBIR) trends within the United States Navy as the result of the changing geopolitical, economic, and technological environment. The primary hypothesis for the dissertation is “Phase III SBIRs are an effective means to transition emerging technologies into Navy Programs.” A literature search conducted prior to this study showed that information was lacking concerning the success rate for transitioning SBIR technologies into operational naval platforms. There appeared to be no available data which tracked Phase III technology transitions originated by the SBIR program. This study has attempted to fill this gap and answer an important question about the effectiveness of the SBIR program. Congress established the Small Business Innovation Research program in 1982 to provide an opportunity for small businesses to conduct Research and Development R&D), and speed the conversion of their research findings into commercial products. Organized as a competition, the SBIR program allows smaller companies the opportunity to test high-risk theories and develop innovative technologies. The objectives of the original 1982 Small Business Innovation Development Act were to: 1) Stimulate technological innovation, 2) Use small business to meet Federal research and development needs, 3) Foster and encourage participation by minority and disadvantaged persons in technological innovation, and 4) Increase private sector commercialization of innovations derived from federal research and development. There are 11 government agencies active in the SBIR program with numerous subagencies that advertise for SBIR projects. Because each sponsoring agency has its own interests and requirements, their SBIR projects have tended to vary greatly in value and difficulty. In order to limit the scope of this dissertation, and because the investigator has extensive experience with the Navys SBIR program and naval systems, the study concentrated on Navy Programs only. The study was also narrowed to look at only objective 4) of the original law as it pertains to the Navy. Also, if a technological innovation developed from a Phase III SBIR project is transitioned into procurement by the Navy, then the innovation was considered to be commercialized. A survey of current and former Navy Program Managers was conducted to evaluate the successes and limitations of the SBIR program as they were considered the key stakeholders, and previously overlooked resource for knowledge on SBIR technology insertion. The results of the survey were used to assess the hypothesis that the SBIR Phase III Transition Program was effective. Primary research in the form of survey questionnaires were sent to approximately 60 Navy Program Managers. A total of 21 questionnaires were returned by the respondents. Subsequently, follow-up structured interviews were conducted with 13 selected respondents. Program background and prior research was obtained through a literature review. The review identified several earlier studies dealing with the SBIR program, the background of the SBIR program, historical funding, and legislative information. The literature review was then used to develop the hypotheses for this dissertation as well as the survey questionnaire. An additional literature search conducted after the survey was completed assisted in the interpretation of the results. The combined literature review and original research resulted in the conclusions presented at the end of this dissertation. The survey questionnaires were comprised of 35 questions in a Likert scale format, and 28 Investigative questions with open-ended answers. The data collected from the Likert questions was statistically analyzed, while the Investigative questions were used to collect qualitative information. The Investigative questions were developed to provide qualitative information from experiences of Navy Program Managers with the SBIR program. The Investigative questions were also used to identify different methodologies used by various Navy organizations in conducting Phase III transition.
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