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The Effectiveness of the Small Business Innovation Research Program Within the Navy Open Access

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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. Subsequently, follow-up structured interviews were conducted with selected respondents. 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. Each survey question was mapped to either the primary hypothesis (H0) or ten secondary hypotheses (H1 through H10). Data obtained from the survey and interviews reveal that 5 of the 11 hypotheses were supported and 6 were not supported. The primary hypothesis, "Phase III SBIRs are an effective means to transition emerging technologies into Navy Programs," was supported by the Program Managers. Previous literature suggests the SBIR Program's Phase I and Phase II efforts have been very successful in developing technology, but this dissertation evaluated only SBIR Phase III efforts. In the opinions of the Navy Program Managers, Phase III efforts have been an effective vehicle to transition technology; however, the total number of SBIR Phase III technology transitions was extremely low considering the thousands of Phase I and Phase II candidates available over the years. The Navy Program Managers expected this low transition rate for SBIR R&D; technology efforts and thought the technology insertion rate for the SBIR program was no worse and probably better than other R&D; programs with the same level of technology maturity. The current Congressional SBIR Law is authorized through April 30th, 2010, thus making this dissertation particularly timely. New insight gleaned from this study may serve to provide perspective on the current SBIR program and to act as a guide for the next Congressional SBIR legislation.

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