leadership in these case is important,” he said, “and not something that can be mandated from Washington.” In the field of photovoltaic manufacturing, significant synergies have formed between state and federal government initiatives, including programs in Arizona, Ohio, and Colorado discussed below.
A KEY CHALLENGE:
TO BRING EXISTING TECHNOLOGIES INTO THE MARKETPLACE
The key challenge, he said, is to bring existing technologies into the marketplace. What are the best ways to accelerate the innovation and to actually deploy it? One way, he said, is through partnerships among government, industry, and academia. Under the leadership of Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, STEP had developed a ten-volume set of reports that examine different types of partnerships for commercializing technology. The general conclusion of these reports, said Dr. Wessner, is that partnerships are extremely effective when properly structured and effectively led. These partnerships include innovation award programs, state and regional consortia, science and technology parks and clusters, and—the topic of the current symposium—government-industry-academia partnerships.1
As an example, he cited the experience of the semiconductor partnership known as SEMATECH that was initiated jointly by the U.S. government and the semiconductor industry in the 1980s. Without this initiative, he said, and other steps proposed by the already-existing Semiconductor Research Corporation, the United States “might well not have the semiconductor industry that we have today.”
A key question for all technology-based economic initiatives, he said, is how to keep an industry in the United States once it is established. “In the case of photovoltaic manufacturing,” he said, “how do we capture the benefits of the federal stimulus measures and our rising R&D budgets?” One answer, he suggested, is to use both new and existing innovation partnerships to attract and support U.S.-based firms. He said that the symposium was designed to examine programs already in place, identify additional opportunities where investments can be useful, and explore the prospects for cooperative R&D. Additional themes central to the discussion, he noted, were the importance of developing technical standards to underpin the new industry and the use of industry roadmaps, such as those which have been central to the strategy of SEMATECH.
1National Research Council, Government-Industry Partnerships for the Development of New Technologies: Summary Report, Charles W. Wessner, ed., Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press, 2003.