Can small business compete effectively for funding under the Commerce Department's Advanced Technology Program? Although the ATP makes no special allowance for small businesses, the results of the first ten years of the program show that small and mid-sized firms in fact are very successful in the rigorous, hard-fought ATP competitions.
Since 1990, the ATP has selected a total of 768 projects for cost-sharing awards to individual companies or industry-led joint ventures to develop high-risk, enabling technologies that would stimulate the U.S. economy by making possible important new products, services, or industrial processes for the world's markets. Approximately 65 percent of these have gone to individual small businesses or to joint ventures led by a small business. Other small businesses also are involved in significant numbers in joint R&D ventures supported by the ATP, forming strategic partnerships with larger firms.
The small businesses that win ATP awards do so entirely on merit: no extra points are given for being a small business. Innovative technical ideas that have substantial potential impact on the economy are the key and small companies have long been recognized as fertile ground for innovation.
ATP award winners
have included quite a few tiny start-up companies, small firms
for whom the ATP can mean the difference between success and failure.
ATP projects at small companies already have led to a radical
new design for the next generation of high-current ion beam implanters
(an important tool of the semiconductor industry); a revolutionary
new organic compound detection technique that provides a thousand-fold
increase in sensitivity for the pharmaceutical and clinical chemistry
industries; key technologies underlying the new "gene chips" that
are having a dramatic impact in biotechnology; new superconductor
technologies to improve cellular phone systems; innovative measurement
technologies for the U.S. auto industry to improve the quality
and lower the cost of new cars; a wholly new technology for inactivating
dangerous viruses in human blood supply products; and many others.
Date Created: June
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