Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Engineering Management


Department of Systems Engineering and Management

First Advisor

Amy M. Cox, PhD


The United States Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program invests $2.2 billion annually into domestic innovation stimulation. The Department of Defense (DoD) contributes almost $1 billion of that investment; of which the Air Force accounts for 25%. Commercialization, either the transfer to programs of record or further industrial investment, is the program’s objective. Data from this research indicates that Air Force programs have a 7.6% commercialization rate; representing an opportunity to improve. Leveraging best practices from industry; this research provides a method to align investments with needed capabilities. This method exploits established user need taxonomies, the DoD Joint Capability Area (JCA) listing and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s SBIR taxonomy, to categorize SBIR efforts. This categorization allows for needs based innovation portfolio management. Metrics are developed that identify several technologies of interest that over perform and underperform relative to the overall portfolio. This development of metrics and visualization tools provides managers a new means to control and improve their innovation investments. This needs based mapping facilitates sharing and coordination amongst aerospace SBIR stakeholders. This thesis concludes by recommending improvements to the existing JCAs, the SBIR topic development process and the establishment of an aerospace SBIR community of interest.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number