The Government as Venture Capitalist: The Long-Run Effects of the Sbir Program

45 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2000 Last revised: 22 Mar 2021

See all articles by Josh Lerner

Josh Lerner

Harvard Business School - Finance Unit; Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 1996

Abstract

Public programs to provide early-stage financing to firms, particularly high-technology companies, have become commonplace in the United States and abroad. The long-run effectiveness of these programs, however, has attracted little empirical scrutiny. This paper examines the impact of the largest U.S. public venture capital initiative, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, which has provided over $6 billion to small high-technology firms between 1983 and 1995. Using a unique database" of awardees compiled by the U.S. General Accounting Office, I show that SBIR awardees grew significantly faster than a matched set of firms over a ten-year period. The positive effects of SBIR awards were confined to firms based in zip codes with substantial venture capital activity. The findings are consistent with both the corporate finance literature on capital constraints and the growth literature on the importance of localization effects.

Suggested Citation

Lerner, Josh, The Government as Venture Capitalist: The Long-Run Effects of the Sbir Program (September 1996). NBER Working Paper No. w5753, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=225586

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