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The Government Role in Civilian Technology: Building a New Alliance
Cooperative R&D ventures between competitors: The benefits of cooperative arrangements include shared capital costs, economies of scale, and reduced risk, and can involve a considerable amount of technology transfer. U.S. corporations are increasingly working within such relationships. Whether they involve private firms only or combine the efforts of public and private entities, cooperative ventures can facilitate technology transfer and can result in technological breakthroughs. Moreover, federal and state governments can leverage investment in research and allow market forces to direct research agendas by requiring matching funds from private participants.
Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs): Cooperative Research and Development Agreements were authorized by the Technology Transfer Act of 1986. Under a CRADA, a federal laboratory provides scientists and equipment for a particular industry-based research project; the company provides funding and its own scientists and equipment. CRADAs mentioned at the workshop that appear promising include those between NIH and small biotechnology firms. Many observers believe, however, that these agreements have yet to achieve their full potential to stimulate technology transfer and development. Participants identified a number of problems with CRADAs: they require a high level of technical sophistication on the part of industrial partners, which narrows the field of potential participants; ''cultural" differences (with regard to incentives, recognition, and rewards) between private industry and federal laboratories can reduce the potential effectiveness of CRADAs; and a considerable amount of administrative oversight is associated with their operation. These difficulties contribute to an environment that inhibits technology transfer.
TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER IN AN EMERGING INDUSTRY: BIOTECHNOLOGY
The biotechnology industry is relatively young, having experienced rapid growth in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The founders of this industry, most of whom began their careers in university research laboratories, have been essential to technology transfer. The industry's rapid commercialization of discoveries is due in large measure to its continuing ties to academic research institutions and its openness in sharing the results of basic research. Another factor contributing to the development of the biotechnology industry centers on the availability of venture capital.4
As the industry matures, however, some of these advantages may no longer apply.5 Workshop participants noted, for example, that as the founders of biotechnology companies retire, the industry's openness to academic laboratories is likely to diminish. In addition, some scientists who, in the past, had affiliations with both academia and industry are now less mobile be-