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Government/Industry/Academic Relationships for Technology Development: A Workshop Report 5 National Science Foundation (NSF) Relationships Dava Newman, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, moderated the session on relationships between government and industry from the perspective of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Panelists included John Hurt, NSF, and John Huggins, University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley). Newman reminded the attendees of the focusing questions that had been provided to the panelists in advance of the meeting. The issues raised included (1) the policies, guidelines, and roles of government, industry, and academia and (2) specific university and government issues surrounding innovation and technology development at research centers and by consortia and individuals. How can the technology community and the government find fresh means of cooperation? Newman continued by mentioning the challenges of intellectual property rights and global collaboration. NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION PERSPECTIVE Hurt began his presentation by providing a short overview of the NSF. He stressed that the agency did no research itself but instead funded research (approximately $5 billion annually). The NSF Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is funded at $100 million. SBIR concepts first began at NSF, and throughout its history NSF has been innovative. NASA and DARPA are organizations that procure technology, and NSF is an organization that enables technology through discovery, learning, and innovation, by developing intellectual capital, integrating research and education, and promoting partnerships. Because one of the primary functions of the government is to create partnerships to make things happen, Hurt said he would emphasize the partnerships that NSF has formed with academia, government, and industry. During the 30-year history of partnerships at NSF, the agency has worked out most of the rough points and problems, including intellectual property rights and cultural differences. Hurt has spent at least 10 years of his career working at the interface between industry and universities. He believed that the key issue was intellectual
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Government/Industry/Academic Relationships for Technology Development: A Workshop Report property ownership and usage rights. Also important is the difference between what motivates industry and what motivates academia. Profit drives industry. Academia is driven mainly by quality research and recognition for that work. The main question is how to bring together those two mindsets, not an easy task. He felt that it took approximately 2 years to form a trusting partnership and that a trusted third party could help promote this collaboration. The federal government and its employees serve as that third party. NSF and Semiconductor Research Corporation jointly fund a partnership of four universities. Hurt said it took around 2 years for the company to trust him as an individual, to say nothing about how long it took the universities. He believed all partners saw that the outcomes of the partnership were far better than anything the individual organizations could accomplish on their own. Hurt defined innovation as “turning knowledge into something useful.” Although the United States, since around 1950, has developed one of the finest academic research enterprises in the world, it is lagging the world in innovation. In 1985, NSF decided that something should be done to induce academic institutions to partner with the private sector on research. The research would be no less fundamental than that already being done, but it would be in areas of interest to the private sector. Although the collaboration had initially produced a clash of cultures, it has since proven to be successful, Hurt said. If one looks at what it takes to be innovative, a technological workforce is one component. Hurt was concerned that in the 1990s, 2 million of the 16 million increase in high-tech jobs were filled by immigrants. There are simply not enough U.S.-born candidates. It might even be argued that without the employment of immigrants in the 1990s, our economy would not have been as robust as it was. There is a new concern that if the awarding of visas is stopped or slowed, the country could be in serious trouble in certain fields, especially information technology. Hurt also asserted that U.S. students were not pursuing careers in engineering. More than 50 percent of the Ph.D.'s granted in the United States in engineering and the computer sciences go to foreign students, not U.S. citizens. Academia’s mission was to train individuals and to perform research, something they do well. However, funding of research laboratories by large corporations is shrinking. This leaves academia with an even larger role to play than before. Infrastructure is also a key factor in innovation. There was a movement, Hurt said, to turn academic institutions into commercialization units even when they clearly did not have the capability or infrastructure to act as such. Academic institutions should remain academic institutions and continue to play a role in research and education. Culture is one factor that affects innovation. The factors effecting pockets of innovation in the United States—for example, Silicon Valley, Research Triangle Park, and Route 128—are not necessarily the people, the knowledge, or the infrastructure, but simply the culture of innovation: the excitement, talking, and sharing that helps things happen. Innovation does not typically occur in organizations and locations where the culture is risk-averse and entrenched (as it might be in a family business). Innovation happens in those organizations that can think in terms of investment and that are willing to take risks by looking for new ways to do things. These organizations want to hire Ph.D.’s who can work in industry instead of Ph.D.’s trained to work only in academia. Hurt continued by saying that government either aided innovation or restricted it. One
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Government/Industry/Academic Relationships for Technology Development: A Workshop Report example is the handling of intellectual property. Each state has its own probably unique laws that decree how the intellectual property is handled at universities. Innovation is evolving in the United States. It happens locally and is critically dependent on the workforce. Hurt mentioned that patent citations in scientific literature had increased 11-fold in the last decade. The country’s patents are becoming more complicated and rely far more on research than they used to. Small businesses, academia, and newcomers—information technology and biotechnology, for example—are patenting work much faster than before. In fact, academic institutions are patenting at about the same rate as the federal government, and small business is patenting at about the same rate as major corporations. Just a few years ago, professors believed that if they spent time working in cooperation with industry or obtaining patents, it would not be helpful for promotion or tenure. That attitude is beginning to change. Public funding is also important. One of the roles of government is awarding patents. Two-thirds of the cited papers are published by organizations that are primarily supported by the federal government, so that another role of the federal government is funding the fundamental research upon which the patents are based. This includes public money that goes to private institutions, such as Johns Hopkins. Hurt believed that the country’s business schools were training their MBA graduates to be managers and chief executive officers of Fortune 500 companies. In the science and technology arena, innovation is occurring in the small businesses. He had asked business schools if they were teaching their students to manage small businesses, but few said they were changing their focus. The discussion moved to NSF’s Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers (IUCRCs), its Science and Technology Centers (STCs), and its Engineering Research Centers (ERCs). The IUCRCs have been in existence for 30 years and the ERCs for the past 20 years. During this period NSF learned a lot about cooperative relationships. Fewer than a dozen of the 3,200 academic institutions in the United States have profited from their research. Hurt tells such institutions that to profit from their research, they must protect their intellectual property. However, there is a point at which a university will end up spending more to protect the intellectual property than it will ever gain from it financially. Once the university owns an intellectual property, there are ways to use that ownership as the basis for interacting with the private sector. A second lesson from programs at NSF’s various cooperative centers concerns future equity. More academic institutions are now using their intellectual property to support their future financial health. Lastly, the development of an intellectual infrastructure for research and education is largely a responsibility of state and federal government. States that attempted to turn universities into commercialization units did great harm to innovation. States that moved in the right direction, according to Hurt, include Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas. Hurt reported on interviews that NSF conducted with the firms that had participated in cooperative centers. Such firms said that 10 percent of their product line resulted from their collaborations in precompetitive research at a university. They also said the universities should remain a partner, doing what they are good at doing and letting industry do what it is good at doing. However, anecdotal results from Maryann Feldman’s Johns Hopkins University Institute for Information Security (JHUISI) suggest that small businesses affiliated with academia are significantly more successful than
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Government/Industry/Academic Relationships for Technology Development: A Workshop Report those that have not had such an affiliation. Industry-academia partnerships, though strained at times and beset by cultural differences, have many benefits for both partners. In 1985, NSF decided to address the chasm between academic research and industry by funding STCs and ERCs, which would perform research in areas important to the private sector, finding ways for the universities to collaborate with that sector. This is the mission of the NSF STCs, whose interactions with industry are less robust than those of the ERCs and IUCRCs but who have quite a bit of interaction with on-campus industry partners. Companies want access to academic faculty for consultation and directed research, he said. They also want access to students for internships and other employment. Some of the small centers have around 20 partner companies, and most of the their graduate students go to work directly for a partner company upon graduation. Hurt said that he was a firm believer in internships for students and professors in industry and internships for industrial employees in universities. The ERCs have a slightly different vision than the STCs. Each center is interested in a particular next-generation engineered system—it is not simply an assembly of individuals working on different interesting projects on a specific topic. Universities and companies join these centers for a chance to interact with one another, a chance to collaborate on campus, and a chance to explore a systems-level approach to a problem. Everyone involved benefits. The partnership comes from a commitment. NSF gives each center $3 million every year and industry gives additional money. If successful, a center can last for 10 years. This means NSF spends a minimum of $30 million on a campus. Annual reviews ensure that the work is of a good quality and that the collaboration with industry is effective. NSF and the involved industries manage the centers jointly. NSF controls the money, but the effectiveness is determined jointly. One interesting example is the NSF National Storage Industry Consortium (NSIC) at Carnegie Mellon University. The center works on increasing storage density for computers. The research team is interdisciplinary—there are electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, tribologists, and aerodynamicists, among others. With six or seven faculty working on nothing more than how to make the components for data storage smaller, closer together, and faster, after 3 years a computer model helped Seagate Technology use reverse calculation to design a better chip. Seagate hired two graduate students who had just completed their degrees in the program, and after 6 months it had new technology on the market. The company’s patience while taking a fundamental approach suddenly paid off. Its success helped Hurt to convince other companies to be patient with research and to stick to goals. Another interesting example was optical data storage. There were no industry partners interested in this concept, so NSF had to drop the idea. Hurt was convinced, however, that optical data storage needed to be worked on, so he funded optics from the NSF’s budget for the ERC program. A year later, the investment had three products. Two companies became interested in participating the following year. A workshop was held one year later and CDs and DVDs were the result. This partnership was in the end efficacious, but it took someone in the trenches working with industry and academia to make it so. The next example is a collaboration between the University of Arizona, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, and the University of
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Government/Industry/Academic Relationships for Technology Development: A Workshop Report California, Berkeley, on the environmentally benign manufacturing of semiconductors. It was an effort jointly funded by the NSF and the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC). SRC, a cooperative effort funded by the semiconductor companies, had a business-oriented culture. The industry had a roadmap it used to fund research that it adhered to rigorously. Hurt negotiated with SRC to become involved in an NSF center. There were some challenges in establishing trust between the participants, but the effort became a true partnership, with government, industry and academia working together to do great things. Hurt then described the NSF IUCRCs, which are different in scope from the ERCs and STCs described previously. They are actually consortia of member companies. NSF provides seed money and use of the NSF name. The 50 centers involve over 100 universities and 400 other organizations. NSF funds the effort with $5 million. Member companies invest $27 million. The directors of the 50 centers meet annually to discuss lessons learned, intellectual property issues, technology transfer, and how to deal with member companies who pose problems. Each industry partner pays to participate. The level of participation depends on the amount a company has paid and on the specific center. The center itself owns the intellectual property, but every company that was a member of the center at the time of the discovery is allowed a royalty-free license to use the patents. Companies become involved primarily for the precompetitive research work, but the patents and innovations do bring business. One interesting aspect of the centers is that faculty members who want to publish their work are required to inform the member companies 90 days before they submit their publication. If a patent is likely, the companies will place a hold, but if they do not respond in 90 days, the publication may be submitted. (Hurt said that the presentation from John Huggins, next on the agenda, would provide further information on the program). Hurt’s presentation was followed by a few questions. When asked how the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) felt about the IUCRC program, Hurt responded that OMB liked its leveraging aspects. And while it does not like funding to last for 10 or 12 years or more, OMB accepts the IUCRC concept. Someone else asked if Hurt believed there was any ideological bias against these types of collaborative centers on the part of the current administration. Hurt replied that the program had been in existence for many years and had faced several administrations. The program costs only $5 million per year, so it remains small enough to be accepted. Another attendee said it would be interesting to know how many Ph.D.’s had been funded through the IUCRC program. Hurt said NSF had the data on this, but he didn’t have it on hand. Information is also available on the number of patents, licenses, centers, involved companies, and degrees awarded. Hurt did mention that although NSF was not involved in workforce development, some of the outcomes of the centers were related to business development. Another NSF program mentioned by Hurt was the Partnerships for Innovation (PFI) program, which funds academic institutions to partner with the private sector to transform knowledge in a particular subject area. Workforce initiatives are allowed in this program as are technology transfer, commercialization, and infrastructure development. There are many partnerships in this program, including 25 with national laboratories and 50 with companies. For example, a small business in Maryland partners with federal laboratories
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Government/Industry/Academic Relationships for Technology Development: A Workshop Report in Maryland to obtain technology generated by the laboratories and by four universities, including Morgan State, Johns Hopkins, Baltimore University, and the University of Maryland. The PFI program involves both small businesses and minority-owned businesses, so it has a secondary objective. IUCRC PERSPECTIVE (BERKELEY SENSOR AND ACTUATOR CENTER) John Huggins, University of California, Berkeley, began by describing the Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center (BSAC), an NSF IUCRC of which he is the executive director. The center is focused on microelectrical mechanical systems (MEMS), bio-MEMS (used for microfluidic mixing and dispensing), and nano-MEMS (carbon and silicon nanotubes and wires). Research in these areas is driven by size and the need to build subsystems from functional units that can be incorporated into larger systems. The devices and structures for these subsystems must, in turn, be built with special processes and materials. The center’s work draws heavily on the semiconductor industry and its processes and requires access to a microfabrication facility (not a small budget item). Huggins described the center as both multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary. The 11 faculty directors are affiliated with four departments at UC Berkeley—electrical engineering, computer science, materials, and mechanical engineering. The 4 department chairs are among the codirectors, and approximately 20 other faculty members coadvise research projects. Owing to the breadth of knowledge required for the research, collaborations on campus are important. Approximately 120 graduate researchers in addition to postdoctoral fellows work on over 95 projects. Project subjects range from devices to sensors and robotics to computer-aided design. The membership (35) of the center in 2004 is diverse, including petroleum companies, traditional semiconductor companies, and analog device companies. National laboratories are also members. As a result, the center has additional opportunities to partner with these laboratories at a level of collaboration more intense than that of the collaboration with industrial partners, including co-authoring of papers and co-submissions of proposals. The laboratory partners often have parallel research that complements that of the center. One third of BSAC’s members are multinational corporations with headquarters outside the United States. Since membership is global, the center has a global presence. Small companies (both start-ups and SBIR participants) are members as well. BSAC is also investigating a means for involving portfolio management companies and venture funds in the membership ranks in order to expose investment companies to some of the new technologies being researched. Smaller portfolio companies will not be able to use their scarce venture capital to join as full members, but they can benefit from its research. Huggins believed that the BSAC membership liked the idea of being exposed to entrepreneurial start-up companies and felt that adding them to the membership would benefit larger company members as well. Huggins believed that a single level of membership was the most appropriate way to structure a center. The $50,000 membership fee constitutes approximately 15 to 25 percent of the center’s total revenue in any given year. Other NSF IUCRCs that began with tiered membership structures have seen most members drop from higher levels of membership support to the lowest level.
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Government/Industry/Academic Relationships for Technology Development: A Workshop Report BSAC holds an annual 3-day in-depth research review on campus. During this time, approximately 100 projects from members and researchers are discussed. Members choose the two papers of greatest interest to them. In the past, papers on microfluidic valves and pumps, the synthesis of carbon nanotubes, biomimetic imaging sensors, and semiconductor-based fabrication processes for MEMS were of high interest and quality. Huggins continued his presentation by discussing the implications of being an NSF IUCRC. Center members and other campus organizations recognize the credibility bestowed by the association with NSF. Another positive implication of being an IUCRC is the legacy of operating guidelines. Dennis Gray of the University of North Carolina has edited a book on how to manage an IUCRC. The guidelines help managers operate the center, and they also shield the center and its researchers from sometimes arbitrary university policy. Seed funding from NSF ranges from about $200,000 to about $400,000 per year at UC Berkeley. (The amount depends on the number of researchers involved.) Later on, an IUCRC is expected to become self-sufficient, and funding to cover administrative expenses—a maintenance fee of sorts—should drop to a nominal amount, $30,000. This funding is not large amount, especially for a larger IUCRC. The directors of all 50 centers meet annually in Washington, D.C., to compare lessons learned and discuss other issues. The method of operation varies widely from center to center around the country. Research topics at the smaller centers tend to be driven by the member companies. Members of the larger centers may not have any say on research directions. Instead, they show their support by renewing their annual membership. A center might serve as a research compass for its member companies, helping point them in the direction of productive research. Huggins began the next section of his presentation by discussing vehicles for collaboration. The obvious collaboration vehicle for the BSAC consists of member company discussions with the researchers. Central to such discussions, which go beyond a simple description or presentation of results, is the forging of good relationships. Member companies hire students for both summer internships and full-time employment after graduation. Huggins has observed business relationships develop out of these associations. According to Huggins, intellectual property could be one of the most divisive issues in collaborative relationships such as are found in an IUCRC. However, UC Berkeley, probably like most other universities, has a licensing department that handles all licensing activity on campus. Such a department allows a firewall to be erected between the center and the licensing group. This helps isolate the researcher from the member companies so that their collaborative relationship will not be harmed by licensing issues that arise. Members of the center, however, have the privilege of a first look at research that is ready for publishing or possible patenting. Center members have 90 days to look at any possible patents or publications before release. They must respond during this period if they are interested in being involved in the patent, license, or auction of any technology. Another collaborative vehicle that has proved successful for BSAC is the concept of experts “in residence.” Center members send individuals to campus as visiting fellows. An individual spends 1 or 2 years working either on a project reflecting his or her own interest or in a research group as one of the UC Berkeley faculty. Huggins described it is as a phenomenal way for an individual to become immersed in a broad technology area.
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Government/Industry/Academic Relationships for Technology Development: A Workshop Report Another benefit of the BSAC is the microfabrication laboratory. Members of the center can use the laboratory to do whatever research they want to do. This is particularly convenient if a company has a visiting fellow on campus who performs equipment evaluation and develops process modules before the company imports processes into its own fabrication facilities. Smaller companies use the microfabrication facility for early product development. Huggins spent the remainder of his presentation discussing government, industry, and academic relationships in general. He mentioned the paradigm of a technology conduit, originated by BSAC codirector Albert Pisano; he himself thought of the mechanism as a helix. Pisano’s “conduit” begins with a research idea that might lead to the preparation of a grant proposal to a federal agency. If the proposal is funded, the research will generate some amount of reusable basic technology, which will in turn attract interest from the center’s industry partners. If the center is doing commercially relevant research, the early, high-risk phase of technology development will have been supported by federal funds. During a project’s tenure, some variation in the research, or even a new research idea, might emerge. The new idea would become the basis for a new proposal, starting the cycle over again. According to Huggins, some fundamental amount of time elapses between the basic research and the point when an investor or center member shows an interest in the technology. It is sometimes difficult to demonstrate the relevance of long-term research to the industrial members. However, members who have been involved with the center for 10 or more years recognize the benefit of long-term investment and the opportunities it presents for commercialization. Many technologies have been commercialized that were originally funded by a federal agency. The paradigm is to use federal funding for risk reduction and development of new devices and processes that can be used by the industry. Sometimes the industry partners will help refine research nearing the end of its federal funding and redirect it into more commercially relevant research, often by funding some of the latter themselves. In this way, the cycle begins again. One example provided by Huggins was an IBM project focused on improving the areal density of computer hard drives. The goal was to increase the areal density by a few orders of magnitude using a micropositioner or a microactuator on the head arm assembly to allow submicron positioning and registration from track to track on the drive. A MEMS electrostatic home drive actuator was developed for that purpose. To successfully increase the storage density, a high-aspectratio etching process was used to etch the structure—a difficult process. As the project neared completion, Professor Pisano conceived of a way to respond to a DARPA BAA for micropower technology building on the disk drive research. A silicon Wankel engine was developed using high-aspect-ratio deep-reactive-ion etching (DRIE) processing. The bio-MEMS experts also took the technology and conceived a microneedle array to dispense medicine. This is another example of how a base technology developed using federal funds can result in multiple technologies, some of which bear no resemblance to the project for which they were originally developed. Taking the microneedle example further, BSAC has developed a microneedle array that can dispense medicine into the interstitial area above the blood vessels and nerves. For example, an insulin detector could be added without causing pain and without drawing blood. A self-contained battery could be used to general electrical power for
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Government/Industry/Academic Relationships for Technology Development: A Workshop Report mixing insulin before it is delivered to the system. Such an insulin-delivery system would be of great commercial interest. Another project that evolved out of some of the center’s earlier work was a microrobotics system consisting of a self-contained MEMS system with three-dimensional, autoplane folding structures. A solar cell will be developed in the microfabrication facility to build a walking device for microrobotics. Huggins said that none of the center’s members were originally interested in microrobotics, but after seeing the three-dimensional research, they were looking for possible new applications for the technology. Huggins finished by reiterating that industry involvement was essential to keep the government-industry conduit paradigm “honest.” Competition for federal funds is increasing, and being able to partner with industry on proposals could be a great advantage. Federal funds have an essential role to play in front-end investment. Industry is quite good at watching what is happening in the research and then funding follow-on activities. Joint Question-and-Answer Period Moderator Newman began the Question-and-Answer Period by asking Huggins to elaborate on international involvement in the BSAC and on NSF’s viewpoint and regulation of that involvement. This issue may be important to NASA as well. Huggins replied that involving multinational companies in the center had allowed it to grow. Approximately 4 years ago, BSAC members voted not to allow multinational companies not based in the United States to join. Subsequently, they realized that the membership needed to be opened up to such companies. Huggins asserted that different countries had had very different expectations for how to interface with the university. The center directors must understand how the expectations of a member from, say, Japan might differ from those of a member from the United States. Global participation has added a lot to the center. Members have greater visibility and have improved their prospects for new business relationships. Hurt provided an NSF perspective on this issue, saying that the agency had a very open view on international involvement. If a foreign company wants to be a member, as long as the center is comfortable with what the company brings to the table, NSF would view the collaboration as positive. Of course, if issues of corporate raiding of technology or espionage arise, NSF would react. Macauley asked about the level of participation by the member companies. For example, when a company sends a representative to BASC’s meetings, is it the company’s director of research and development or a staff engineer or scientist? Huggins replied that most member companies sent someone at the level of division technical manager. Several companies in the San Francisco Bay area send a number of representatives. Representatives from national laboratories such as Sandia/California and Lawrence Livermore tend to be practicing engineers. Companies do not usually send chief executive officers. An attendee asked what percentage of BSAC’s yearly funding came from the members and what percentage from federal grants. Huggins stated that approximately 20 percent of the funding came from member fees. On top of that members also contribute for sponsored projects and visiting fellows at the center. Hurt said the larger multidisciplinary IUCRCs were often funded on a one-to-one basis—50 percent industry
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Government/Industry/Academic Relationships for Technology Development: A Workshop Report and 50 percent government. There are other cases where company funding is 10 times federal funding. The ratio depends on the technology sector on which the center is focused. Another attendee noted that some of the funding of specific IUCRCs was a result of proposals that were funded by various entities, some was from the membership fees, and some from NSF. Is there any flexibility on how the NSF funding can be used? Hurt replied that industry money had more flexibility than money from NSF, because NSF did monitor how its money was spent by each center. Another attendee asked if industry money was used as a means of leveraging and demonstrating to a federal agency that cost-share funding was available. Huggins replied that after certain infrastructure costs had been deducted from the membership fees, the remainder of the money was unrestricted. The remaining money at BSAC is divided equally among the faculty directors, who then decide how it will be used. Many times it is used to bridge between an award that has ended and the end date of a graduate student’s tenure at the center and university. Some of the money is used to develop new ideas for research that is not yet of interest or has not yet arrived at the point where a proposal can be developed. An attendee asked if Huggins had had any difficulty determining if a project belonged to the center. For example, when a BSAC faculty member obtains a grant, does it automatically come under the aegis of the center? Huggins replied that a center project is any project on which any one of the full-time faculty directors served as the principal investigator. For example, if a professor wins DARPA funding, then all of the research conducted under that funding is considered a center project. None of the center members have to approve the project before it can be started. Members provide feedback on such projects at the semiannual BSAC meetings, which is shared with each researcher, and every project is rated. Members meet privately during the meeting to discuss the center and then provide direction on what the members like and dislike about the projects being performed at the center. This mechanism stops short of mandating what the research topics will be but provides input to the center. The type of annual review varies by center. In the beginning stages of very small centers, members often vote on which projects should be funded. The robustness of the process at BSAC comes from the flexibility allowed there. As long as the research remains excellent, the members will continue to support the center. Another attendee asked both panelists what could be done to improve the process by which the NSF IUCRCs are enabled. What federal laws could be changed to improve collaboration, involvement, and innovation? Huggins replied that even for the BSAC, which had a large budget, funding was always an issue. The center is always resource-limited, not idea-limited. A slow building of resources would be helpful. Hurt said that after a center had been established a long time, it might not be very interested in the $30,000 sustainment funding. It would be more interested in its designation as an NSF IUCRC, which implies that NSF believes it is among the best collaborative efforts in the country. If NASA was interested in becoming a member of an IUCRC, another attendee asked, would the center’s members be amenable to its joining? Huggins replied that several national laboratories were already members of the BSAC and were providing opportunities for graduate students to work at the laboratories. Collaboration between faculty and laboratory employees is also good. If NASA were to become a member, it
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Government/Industry/Academic Relationships for Technology Development: A Workshop Report would have the same option of directing funded projects as any other member and would be able to fund additional work. Hurt said that it was a little more complicated that that. All federal agencies that are involved as IUCRC members are charged a few percent to process their funding through the agency. When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wanted to join the center working on the environmentally benign manufacture of semiconductors, member companies were afraid that it would be watching what they were doing and looking for excuses to regulate the environmental issues raised by the research. However, NASA has no regulatory function. The members of the specific center would have to want them to join. Huggins said that NASA had facilities in the San Francisco Bay area that investors at the center would want to use for experiments. Although not specifically related to topics covered by the NSF panel, discussion continued on DARPA’s renewed role in space. One attendee mentioned that there were challenges associated with some of the projects that had grown to be quite large efforts, such as the Orbital Express. Such large projects might be outside the normal DARPA business model. The UCAV example, according to the speaker, was interesting in that there had been several allusions during the discussions at the first session to the space arena, specifically the J-UCAS’s relationship to the National Aerospace Initiative. Further information on that aspect of the J-UCAS program would be interesting. Another subject of interest to NASA is how the different types of relationships discussed during the workshop are affected by relationships between different federal agencies. For example, in thinking about how to collaborate or coordinate activities with DARPA, how is that collaboration affected by the different business models at the two agencies? Decisions made jointly by agencies at higher levels affect the way NASA might collaborate or coordinate with, say, DARPA or NSF. There have been constructive discussions between NASA and NSF on potential collaboration between exploration systems research and technology at NASA and the NSF engineering directorate. In forging such relationships, NASA will have an eye on how business models affect collaboration. One example of a longstanding relationship between NASA and NSF is the Antarctica exploration research test bed. A steering committee member mentioned that the organizational infrastructure that other agencies such as NSF already had in place might be a starting point for NASA in attracting talent. NASA should not have to reinvent the wheel. Mankins agreed that to some extent this was true. DARPA focuses on innovation and the NSF on quality. NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate is executing national policy, so that even the most brilliant idea, if it is not germane to the policy on space exploration, is not within the directorate’s purview for technology development. Different agencies must learn how to work together strategically despite their differing missions.
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