would most likely not be willing to back a small company in its quest for a technological prize, but that individual investors would be necessary.
Jim Ryder spoke from a Lockheed Martin perspective. He mentioned the need for businesses to vigorously connect technology development to the marketplace. A balance between pleasing stockholders and making technical advances must be a company goal. Ryder, also speaking for several colleagues at Lockheed Martin with whom he had discussed the steering committee’s focusing questions, mentioned that government should avoid placing government laboratories in direct competition with industry. Competitive solicitations and awards should be favored when there are multiple, legitimate, capable, and credible bidders and when the procurement schedule permits. There is also a role for noncompetitive awards when there is a clear concentration of capability, whether it be an intellectual capability or a facility capability.
Ryder mentioned that industry preferred to keep university work out of the critical path to technology development. Universities have a valid role, which does not, however, lend itself to being monitored for weekly or monthly progress or to achieving multiple milestones on a rigid schedule. The space-based laser program is an example of cooperation that involved Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. The program ultimately collapsed. A review of the program and the three companies revealed that each company was withholding its best work from the program for competitive reasons. International cooperative efforts are even more challenging in this respect. Ryder commented that the United States must move forward now in technology development if the country desires a long-term program in human and robotic exploration. The effort will have to last a long time or it will not be successful. If the country is going to continue in human exploration, it is time to seriously determine what high-risk technical problems must be solved. It is time for the government to work with universities and companies to figure out which high-risk steps are necessary.
John Hurt, NSF, and John Huggins, Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center (BSAC), discussed NSF’s collaborative efforts involving government, industry, and academia. Hurt began by describing the various collaborative efforts at NSF, including the Engineering Research Centers (ERCs), the Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers (IUCRCs), and the Partnerships for Innovation program. Key issues in these collaborations are intellectual property and usage rights and the sometimes conflicting missions and motivations of the partners. Hurt described innovation as “simply turning knowledge into something useful.” Almost two decades ago, NSF decided that something should be done to induce academic institutions to partner with the private sector on research. The research at the universities would be no less fundamental than what is already being done, but it would be in areas of interest to the private sector. Hurt stated that although this collaboration initially produced a clash of cultures, it had proven to be successful.
Several factors affecting innovation were discussed by Hurt. Infrastructure is a key factor in innovation. One area of concern is the new role that some universities are playing in the commercialization of technology. Hurt said that academic institutions do not have the capability or infrastructure to be successful in this role—they should focus