Convey your message publicly. These industry representatives were sent early to explain the purpose and advantages of SEMATECH to leaders of the government and private sector.
Focus the program. SEMATECH did not try to approach the entire semiconductor industry; rather, it focused its attention on the equipment industry, which was about one-fourth the size of the semiconductor industry. This stimulated a flow of money similar to the flow seen recently from the automobile industry to its suppliers.
Set measurable objectives. In 1988, SEMATECH began creating roadmaps. Objectives were to advance generic and precompetitive knowledge. The consortium did not support product development or other competitive activities, which would have raised conflicts among members. By focusing on infrastructure, members could work together on methods and instrumentation that benefited all without compromising competitive positions.
Set uniform requirements. Participating members were not allowed to reduce their dues by opting out of particular programs. Everyone joined every program, so that support was not fragmented.
Plan first, spend later. Dr. Spencer said that SEMATECH got off to a slow start as it felt its way toward mission. In 1988, he said, the government and industry gave $200 million to “an immature organization in Austin” that was not yet prepared to spend those funds wisely; this required several years to learn. He advised all consortia to have their roadmaps in place before launching programs.
What was accomplished? One way SEMATECH defined success was to in-crease its global market share through a stronger equipment industry. The Economist did a study after SEMATECH “declared success” in 1993, and despite the journal’s general skepticism about government-industry partnerships, it concluded that an “amazing turnaround” had occurred in U.S. industry, and that some people were giving SEMATECH credit. Dr. Spencer added that SEMATECH’s members recognized that “we were out of crisis mode,” increased their private funding by 30 percent in 1994, and agreed that working together can bring economic advantages.
In addition, members found the consortium to be a valuable forum for exchanging information. At the outset, when assignees first joined SEMATECH, most of them had strict instructions not to reveal any information of their own but instead to learn as much as they could. After a short time they found that “all the participants already knew everything” about the other participants, “the locks disappeared from the filing cabinets,” and a cooperative culture evolved. “One of the major things we learned,” said Dr. Spencer, “was that even though the semiconductor industry is highly competitive, companies can work together to the benefit of all.”