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When Does Funding Research by Smaller Firms Bear Fruit?: Evidence from the SBIR Program

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  • Joshua S. Gans
  • Scott Stern

Abstract

This paper evaluates whether the relative concentration of funding for small, research-oriented firms in a small number of high-tech industries is related to the differences across industries in the level of appropriability or capital constraints facing small firms. To do so, we exploit a novel test based on the relationship between industry-level private venture financing and the performance of government-subsidized R&D projects in those sectors. If the government funds projects on the margin (as it should under an optimal subsidy regime) and industries only differ in terms of the level of appropriability, then private funding and subsidized project performance are positively correlated. Conversely, if industries only differ in terms of the level of capital constraints, this correlation is negative. Our principal empirical result is that project-level performance is highest for those technologies that are in industrial segments that attract high rates of venture capital investment. This result suggests that industrial sectors differ in the degree of appropriability for research-oriented small businesses and that variation in the appropriability regime helps explain the concentrated nature of venture capital activity in the economy.

Suggested Citation

  • Joshua S. Gans & Scott Stern, 2000. "When Does Funding Research by Smaller Firms Bear Fruit?: Evidence from the SBIR Program," NBER Working Papers 7877, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7877
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    Cited by:

    1. Hyytinen, Ari & Pajarinen, Mika, 2002. "Financing of Technology-Intensive Small Business: Some Evidence on the Uniqueness of the ICT Industry," Discussion Papers 813, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
    2. Andrew Toole & Dirk Czarnitzki, 2007. "Biomedical Academic Entrepreneurship through the SBIR Program," NBER Chapters,in: Academic Science and Entrepreneurship: Dual Engines of Growth National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Da Rin, Marco & Nicodano, Giovanna & Sembenelli, Alessandro, 2006. "Public policy and the creation of active venture capital markets," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(8-9), pages 1699-1723, September.
    4. Cristiano Antonelli & Morris Teubal, 2012. "From the Corporation to Venture Capitalism: New Surrogate Markets for Knowledge and Innovation Led Economic Growth," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economics and Theory of the Firm, chapter 38 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. Rin, Marco Da & Hellmann, Thomas & Puri, Manju, 2013. "A Survey of Venture Capital Research," Handbook of the Economics of Finance, Elsevier.
    6. Joshua S. Gans & David H. Hsu & Scott Stern, 2002. "When Does Start-Up Innovation Spur the Gale of Creative Destruction?," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 33(4), pages 571-586, Winter.
    7. Hyytinen, Ari & Pajarinen, Mika, 2002. "Small Business Finance in Finland. A Descriptive Study," Discussion Papers 812, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
    8. Iain M. Cockburn & Megan J. MacGarvie & Elisabeth Müller, 2010. "Patent thickets, licensing and innovative performance," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(3), pages 899-925, June.
    9. Rodriguez-Palenzuela, Diego, 2001. "Sources of economic renewal: from the traditional firm to the knowledge firm," Working Paper Series 0043, European Central Bank.
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    11. Robert A. Lowe & Arvids A. Ziedonis, 2006. "Overoptimism and the Performance of Entrepreneurial Firms," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(2), pages 173-186, February.
    12. repec:spr:italej:v:4:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s40797-017-0062-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Haifeng Qian & Kingsley Haynes, 2014. "Beyond innovation: the Small Business Innovation Research program as entrepreneurship policy," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 39(4), pages 524-543, August.
    14. David B. Audretsch & Albert N. Link & John T. Scott, 2013. "Public/private technology partnerships: evaluating SBIR-supported research," Chapters,in: Public Support of Innovation in Entrepreneurial Firms, chapter 5, pages 91-104 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    15. Michael Dietrich & Jackie Krafft (ed.), 2012. "Handbook on the Economics and Theory of the Firm," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 13623.
    16. Hyytinen, Ari & Pajarinen, Mika, 2001. "Financial Systems and Venture Capital in Nordic Countries: A comparative Study," Discussion Papers 774, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
    17. Hyytinen, Ari & Pajarinen, Mika (ed.), . "Financial Systems and Firm Performance. Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives," ETLA B, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy, number 200.
    18. Guerini, Massimiliano & Quas, Anita, 2016. "Governmental venture capital in Europe: Screening and certification," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 175-195.
    19. Giuseppina Testa & Katarzyna Szkuta, 2018. "Improving access to finance for young innovative enterprises with growth potential: evidence of impact on firms' output - Part 2. R&D grant schemes: lessons learned from evaluations," JRC Working Papers JRC109879, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    20. Joo-Suk Lee & Seung-Hoon Yoo & Seung-Jun Kwak, 2009. "Modelling R&D expenditure data with zero observations: two-equation model," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(6), pages 717-727.
    21. Ali-Yrkkö, Jyrki & Hyytinen, Ari & Liukkonen, Johanna, 2001. "Exiting Venture Capital Investments: Lessons from Finland," Discussion Papers 781, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
    22. David Audretsch & Taylor Aldridge, 2014. "The Development of US Policies directed at stimulating Innovation and Entrepreneurship," JRC Working Papers JRC87894, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    23. Fabio Bertoni & Annalisa Croce, 2011. "Policy Reforms for Venture Capital in Europe," Chapters,in: Science and Innovation Policy for the New Knowledge Economy, chapter 6 Edward Elgar Publishing.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G24 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Investment Banking; Venture Capital; Brokerage
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives

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