Federal Research:

Preliminary Information on the Small Business Technology Transfer Program

RCED-96-19: Published: Jan 24, 1996. Publicly Released: Jan 24, 1996.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the implementation of the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program, focusing on: (1) the quality and commercial potential of STTR research; (2) how agencies address potential conflicts of interest from the involvement of federally funded research and development (R&D) centers in STTR; and (3) the need for STTR in light of its similarity to the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program.

GAO found that: (1) federal agencies rated the quality and commercial potential of STTR proposals favorably in 1994, but technical experts were concerned about the commercial potential of STTR research because of the newness of the program; (2) agencies have taken actions to avoid potential conflicts of interest arising from R&D centers' involvement in STTR, such as restricting centers' participation, preventing R&D centers from using confidential information in preparing STTR proposals, and ensuring centers' use of outside peer reviews; (3) although agencies have differing views regarding the effects of STTR on SBIR, there is no evidence of competition between STTR and SBIR for quality proposals; (4) the need for STTR is unclear due to its similarity to SBIR, and it will take years to comprehensively evaluate STTR effectiveness; and (5) Congress believes that STTR addresses a core problem in national economic competitiveness and SBIR does not provide a direct mechanism for technology transfer.

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