improve the return, by as much as an order of magnitude, is to provide production services with these new processes as well as equipment. The auto industry, for example, is not good at installing and refining new processes, and small, nimble companies can offer a valued service in that way. On the other hand, he observed, we have both a responsibility and an incentive to pursue widespread application. And to create the greatest possible benefit to the U.S. economy.
Bill Long suggested to Maryann Feldman that they should consider surveying companies that have not applied to ATP. Doing so would strengthen the case for concluding that ATP projects fund technologies that would not be able to attract private capital—that the program does not compete with private funding sources.
We have considered that strongly, Dr. Feldman replied, but we have no way to construct such a sample. We have data on our companies' funding histories before applying to ATP but not on companies that have never applied. In this connection, Dr. Wessner suggested that David Morgenthaler's observations be taken into account. As a past president of the National Venture Capital Association and a leading figure in that industry, his view that there is little, if any, overlap should be kept in mind.
Lewis Branscomb suggested that Dr. Feldman's team approach venture capital firms for information on firms that they fund. The funding histories of those companies might be compared with reference to their ATP participation and other relevant factors.
Yes, said Dr. Feldman, but such a retrospective study—relying as it must on people's recollections—would introduce its own biases. Still, some statistical approach to the non-participating companies would be valuable.