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The Government Role in Civilian Technology: Building a New Alliance
creased collaborative R&D partnerships with suppliers. In the future, some workshop participants predicted, there will be increased emphasis on joint ventures, especially with foreign partners. Collaborative agreements with specific, applied technology goals may become more common. In addition, suppliers will be increasingly responsible for the development of new technologies, and acquisitions as a form of technology transfer may increase in frequency, according to participants. One official of a U.S. electronics company indicated that a number of other factors have contributed to successful technology transfer in automotive electronics. Many of these center on market incentives. For instance, many electronics firms have been willing to transfer technology to the automotive industry to help create new markets for their products. Automobile manufacturers view these developments as opportunities to enhance the customer appeal of their products through increased use of electronic components in autos.
One example of government support for automotive-related technology transfer discussed at the workshop is the Combustion Research Facility funded by DOE. The facility has a staff of approximately 80 government scientists and engineers, and an equal number of visiting staff from academia, industry, and other laboratories. Each year the facility hosts approximately 800 visitors, which facilitates the diffusion of technology. Automotive industry representatives help set the facility's research agenda through involvement in project R&D working groups.
FEDERAL EFFORTS IN TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER
Federal efforts to enhance technology transfer have increased over the past decade.6 Formal links between government facilities and the private sector remain limited, however, in contrast to intrafirm collaborative arrangements.7 One federal initiative discussed at the workshop, the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS), involves R&D in support of the machine tool industry. NCMS, a consortium of 120 member companies established under the National Cooperative Research Act of 1984, provides technology outreach to small firms that make up the industry.
Technology transfer can also occur when an organization has specific product development requirements. In cases such as this, it may contract with a federal laboratory to carry out the necessary research. The Department of Energy is also moving to enhance its technology transfer activities, an agency official told the workshop.8 Among the mechanisms DOE is using to transfer technology to the private sector are Superconductivity Pilot Centers that have industry-driven research agendas and require cost sharing. Similar efforts are the Clean Coals Technologies Program, DOE involvement in the Small Business Innovation Research Program, the Energy Conservation Utilization Technology Program, the Advanced Manufac-