Public-private partnerships involving cooperative research and development among industry, government, and universities can play an instrumental role in introducing key new technologies to the market. Experience shows that partnerships involving government participation in cooperative research and development with industry, universities, and government laboratories can work. They often contribute to national missions in health, energy, the environment, and national defense and to the nation’s ability to capitalize on its R&D investments.

This report presents an overview of the work of the National Research Council’s Committee on Government-Industry Partnerships for the Development of New Technologies, under the auspices of the Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy. In its review of a variety of partnership programs in the United States, the Committee has found that partnerships constitute a vital positive element of public policy, helping to address major challenges and opportunities at the nexus of science, technology, and economic growth.1

This chapter introduces some core issues from the Committee’s portfolio of work on public-private partnerships. The first section sets out what public-private partnerships are, introduces some situations in which they might help advance the development of new technologies, and identifies some of the forms that they can take. The second section highlights the programs that have been the focus of the Committee’s analysis and relates some insights gained from this review. The final section of this introduction provides a user’s guide to the Committee’s analysis, which is summarized in this report.


See Part II for the Committee’s recommendations.

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