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The impact of 36 innovation, technology, and market characteristics on the probability that early stage R&D projects will reach the market is examined. Analysis is based on data from 561 R&D projects developed by technological entrepreneurs. Four characteristics stand out as most predictive: expected profitability, technological opportunity, development risk, and appropriability conditions. These predict future commercial success well with an out-of-sample accuracy of 80.9 %. This model performs better than R&D managers' and venture capital's (VC's) forecasts of success and has the potential to be used as a screening tool for early stage R&D investment reviews by, for example, VCs. Implications for both research and practice are discussed.