Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Systems Engineering and Management

First Advisor

Amy M. Cox, PhD


The Department of Defense (DoD) invests over 1 billion dollars annually in Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) efforts. These SBIR efforts are similar to venture capital investments, where a transition beyond seed funding is considered a success. A baseline study of 2015-2018 Air Force SBIR investments indicates that 8.8% of the efforts secured long-term funding. Current data allows for an assessment of whether or not a project scores long-term funding; however, there is no measurement of whether or not the technology transitions to DoD usage. Transition is the rate at which SBIR investments are fielded or integrated into a military system. Commercialization is the rate at which SBIR efforts move from seed funds to long-term funding streams; either commercial or government. Tracking the lifecycle of SBIR-developed technology within the defense sector is fundamental. This research surveys 1,681 small businesses to determine the trajectory taken by their SBIR efforts. We provide descriptive statistics on the rate at which technologies transition to commercial and military use. This research also considers the impact of several factors on transition, including prior experience working with the DoD, stakeholder characteristics, funding profiles and company demographics.

AFIT Designator



Approved for public release: 88ABW-2023-0317

A 12-month embargo was observed.