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National Laboratories and Universities: Building New Ways to Work Together - Report of a Workshop
from national laboratories, universities, and government agencies took part in an open dialogue on the benefits of and barriers to collaborative research activities between the national laboratories and universities at the July 2003 workshop. Although the focus was on the interactions between DOE laboratories and universities, information on collaborations in other agencies (National Institute of Standards and Technology [NIST] and Department of Defense [DOD]) and on the growing needs of new agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was provided to bring a broader base of examples and drivers into the dialogue. A number of workshop participants were particularly interested in understanding the experiences across research institutions and identifying best practices that might be employed in developing or enhancing collaborations going forward. The four topical areas listed below were covered in depth, both in presentations and in breakout discussion sessions held on the second day of the workshop:
Institutional incentives and structures
Scientific user facilities
Building the science and engineering workforce
Conducting research in a classified environment
Key barriers to collaboration that have to be addressed were also identified to ensure that future collaborative research programs can take advantage of the best that both the laboratories and the universities have to offer the nation in addressing major national challenges. A summary of the major points of these discussions is presented later in this report.
The workshop began with a session entitled “We All Agree Collaboration Is a Good Thing”So How Can It Be Strengthened?” The presentations and discussions that followed articulated some of the dimensions of this long-term challenge:
Both university and national laboratory researchers were able to articulate the value of collaboration for individual participants and for the national research fabric, emphasizing the distinctions in “flavor” or character of research resources available to universities versus those available to the laboratories.
Numerous types of collaboration were discussed, exemplifying the many attempts made by universities and laboratories to work together over a period of decades. These ranged immensely in scale and complexity, from single collaborations between principal investigators (PIs) to multitiered formalized arrangements between partner institutions.
The various attempts were inevitably viewed as scientifically successful but faced with structural, administrative, and cultural challenges