An analysis of demographic data revealed a number of factors that contribute to the failure of research projects. First, teams with less experience are less likely to successfully complete their project. Specifically, teams without SBIR experience in R&D projects directly related to the technology being funded are more likely to fail. Second, teams receiving smaller awards are more likely to fail. This could be due to financing difficulties or the fact that riskier projects were given less support. Third, larger firms were more likely to fail, which Link and Wright attribute to a lack of flexibility in handling the unexpected turns of a long-term R&D project. Finally, projects with a female principal investigator (PI) were less likely to fail. The authors abstain from offering a theory about the success of women PIs.
Link and Wright acknowledge that more research is needed, and additional data on the backgrounds of PIs lead to more useful research. However, they suggest that since experience appears to play a key role in the success of research projects, mentoring programs could have a big impact on future projects. Experienced SBIR researchers could be paired with current teams in their knowledge area to pass on valuable information about project planning, budgeting and market assessment.
If mentoring is an effective practice in lowering the likelihood of failure, state and regional SBIR programs could play a key role in supporting research teams by connecting them to the right people. This could also prove useful in non-SBIR research projects funded by state programs."
Download On the Failure of R&D Projects: https://ideas.repec.org/p/ris/uncgec/2015_003.html.