Part V turns to the Committee’s extensive work in reviewing three types of public-private partnerships in the United States: consortia, innovation funding, and laboratory-based science and technology clusters. As noted above, the Committee analyzed the challenges facing the global semiconductor industry, explored the contributions of consortia, and documented the expansion of national and regional programs to support this industry. The Committee also convened leading experts from industry and academia to review the prospects and potential of a solid-state lighting consortium. A properly constructed consortium could accelerate technological progress, rendering this new technology more versatile, more economical, and therefore more acceptable to consumers. The widespread use of solid-state lighting technologies might yield substantial energy savings and reduce the environmental impact of power generation.

The reviews of the Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) and the Advanced Technology Program (ATP) highlight specific issues related to assessing the performance of public-private partnerships for which the federal government provides awards to small firms to help overcome early-stage financing hurdles or to facilitate the development by large and small firms of a promising technology or product. ATP and SBIR complement each other and address different points in the innovation process. Because proposals are developed by private companies, the ATP selection process is essentially industry-driven. ATP funds are matched by awardees and are directed to pre-commercial research rather than product development. SBIR awards are smaller and are intended to develop the scientific and technical merit of research ideas in order to facilitate their commercialization and meet the federal agency goals.30

The Committee’s examination of S&T parks focuses attention on the availability of funding over sustained periods, the presence and willingness of individuals and teams in the private sector to commercialize some of the knowledge generated, availability of physical infrastructure and quality-of-life amenities, and the need for effective leadership to facilitate and guide park development. The goals of the parks themselves, however, often vary substantially. The Sandia

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To provide for an objective assessment of the SBIR program, a part of the program’s recent reauthorization, the Congress tasked the National Research Council with a multi-year, multi-agency review of the SBIR program at the five agencies. See HR5667, Section 108. While complementary, it should be emphasized that the ATP and SBIR programs are different, targeting different points in the innovation process. In terms of rigorous and regular assessment the ATP effort is of high quality. The ATP has also been the subject of an extraordinary amount of outside review and analysis, the most comprehensive being the Committee’s own analysis. See National Research Council, The Advanced Technology Program: Assessing Outcomes, op. cit. Objective external assessment of SBIR is much more limited, aside from the commendable efforts of the Department of Defense, which reviewed its program and designed innovations to encourage greater commercialization. The National Research Council review of the DoD SBIR program was broadly positive. See National Research Council, The Small Business Innovation Research Program: An Assessment of the Department of Defense Fast Track Initiative, C. Wessner, ed., Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 2000.



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