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On the failure of scientific research: an analysis of SBIR projects funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health

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  • Martin S. Andersen

    (University of North Carolina at Greensboro)

  • Jeremy W. Bray

    (University of North Carolina at Greensboro)

  • Albert N. Link

    (University of North Carolina at Greensboro)

Abstract

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is the primary source of public funding in the United States for research by small firms on new technologies, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is a major contributor to that funding agenda. Although previous research has explored the determinants of research success for NIH SBIR projects, little is known about the determinants of project failure. This paper provides important, new evidence on the characteristics of NIH SBIR projects that fail. Specifically, we find that firms that have a founder with a business background are less likely to have their funded projects fail. We also find, after controlling for the endogenous nature of woman-owned firms, that such firms are also less likely to fail.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin S. Andersen & Jeremy W. Bray & Albert N. Link, 2017. "On the failure of scientific research: an analysis of SBIR projects funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 112(1), pages 431-442, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:scient:v:112:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s11192-017-2353-7
    DOI: 10.1007/s11192-017-2353-7
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. G. M.P. Swann, 2009. "The Economics of Innovation," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 13211.
    2. Gicheva, Dora & Link, Albert N., 2016. "On the economic performance of nascent entrepreneurs," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 109-117.
    3. Albert N. Link & John T. Scott, 2013. "Bending the Arc of Innovation: Public Support of R&D in Small, Entrepreneurial Firms," Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy, Palgrave Macmillan, number 978-1-137-37088-4, April.
    4. Christopher Hayter, 2015. "Public or private entrepreneurship? Revisiting motivations and definitions of success among academic entrepreneurs," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 40(6), pages 1003-1015, December.
    5. Albert N. Link & Christopher J. Ruhm, 2013. "Bringing science to market:commercializing from NIH SBIR awards," Chapters, in: Public Support of Innovation in Entrepreneurial Firms, chapter 1, pages 3-24, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    6. Donald Siegel & Charles Wessner, 2012. "Universities and the success of entrepreneurial ventures: evidence from the small business innovation research program," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 37(4), pages 404-415, August.
    7. Leyden, Dennis Patrick & Link, Albert N., 2015. "Public Sector Entrepreneurship: U.S. Technology and Innovation Policy," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199313853, Decembrie.
    8. Albert N. Link & John T. Scott, 2013. "Governments as entrepreneur: Evaluating the commercialization success of SBIR projects," Chapters, in: Public Support of Innovation in Entrepreneurial Firms, chapter 2, pages 25-38, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    9. Stuart D. Allen & Stephen K. Layson & Albert N. Link, 2013. "Public gains from entrepreneurial research: Inferences about the economic value of public support of the Small Business Innovation Research program," Chapters, in: Public Support of Innovation in Entrepreneurial Firms, chapter 6, pages 105-112, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    10. Mathew L. A. Hayward & Dean A. Shepherd & Dale Griffin, 2006. "A Hubris Theory of Entrepreneurship," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(2), pages 160-172, February.
    11. Link, Albert N., 2015. "Capturing Knowledge: Private Gains and Public Gains from University Research Partnerships," Foundations and Trends(R) in Entrepreneurship, now publishers, vol. 11(3), pages 139-206, November.
    12. Phil Nixon & Megan Harrington & David Parker, 2012. "Leadership performance is significant to project success or failure: a critical analysis," International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, vol. 61(2), pages 204-216, January.
    13. Dennis Leyden & Albert Link, 2015. "Toward a theory of the entrepreneurial process," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 44(3), pages 475-484, March.
    14. Albert N. Link, 2013. "Public Support of Innovation in Entrepreneurial Firms," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 15558.
    15. Albert N. Link & John T. Scott, 2013. "Concluding Observations about Public Support of R&D in Small, Entrepreneurial Firms," Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy, in: Bending the Arc of Innovation: Public Support of R&D in Small, Entrepreneurial Firms, chapter 10, pages 70-74, Palgrave Macmillan.
    16. Nightingale, Paul, 1998. "A cognitive model of innovation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(7), pages 689-709, November.
    17. Link, Albert & Wright, Mike, 2015. "On the Failure of R&D Projects," UNCG Economics Working Papers 15-3, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Department of Economics.
    18. Wilde, Joachim, 2000. "Identification of multiple equation probit models with endogenous dummy regressors," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 69(3), pages 309-312, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    Cited by:

    1. Albert N. Link & Martijn van Hasselt, 2022. "The use of intellectual property protection mechanisms by publicly supported firms," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 31(1-2), pages 111-121, February.
    2. Valérie François & Pascal Philippart, 2019. "A university spin-off launch failure: explanation by the legitimation process," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 44(4), pages 1188-1215, August.
    3. Sergio Salles-Filho & Bruno Fischer & Yohanna Juk & Paulo Feitosa & Fernando A. B. Colugnati, 2023. "Acknowledging diversity in knowledge-intensive entrepreneurship: assessing the Brazilian small business innovation research," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 48(4), pages 1446-1465, August.
    4. Mengyang Pan & Aravind Chandrasekaran & James Hill & Manus Rungtusanatham, 2022. "Multidisciplinary R&D project success in small firms: The role of multiproject status and project management experience," Production and Operations Management, Production and Operations Management Society, vol. 31(7), pages 2806-2821, July.
    5. Albert N Link & Christopher A Swann & Martijn van Hasselt, 2022. "An assessment of the US Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program: A study of project failure [On the Failure of Scientific Research: An Analysis of SBIR Projects Funded by the U.S. Nationa," Science and Public Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 49(6), pages 972-978.
    6. Steven Bednar & Dora Gicheva & Albert N. Link, 2021. "Innovative activity and gender dynamics," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 56(4), pages 1591-1599, April.
    7. Sara Amoroso & Albert N. Link, 2021. "Intellectual property protection mechanisms and the characteristics of founding teams," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 126(9), pages 7329-7350, September.
    8. Sara Nienow & Olena Leonchuk & Alan C O’Connor & Albert N Link, 2024. "Bringing technology to market: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute SBIR Phase IIB projects," Science and Public Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(1), pages 144-148.
    9. Rajeev K. Goel & Devrim Göktepe-Hultén, 2021. "Innovation by foreign researchers: relative influences of internal versus external human capital," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 46(1), pages 258-276, February.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Technology; Innovation; R&D; Small firms; SBIR; NIH;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • O38 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Government Policy

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