John S. Wilson


A research consortium is generally defined as an association of organizations involved in collaborative R&D projects. The goal of most collaborative research ventures is to leverage both scientific and engineering expertise, and financial resources. In practice, research consortia take many different forms, including interfirm collaborations, public-private ventures, and university-based projects.14 The relationships among consortia members, and their financial and other responsibilities, vary. Consortia participants often use different measures to assess the value and effectiveness of their involvement in collaborative R&D.

In March 1991, the project on the Government Role in Civilian Technology and the Academy Industry Program convened a workshop to assess recent experiences with research consortia. Leaders from industry, government, and academia participated in the discussions. The objective of the session was to identify both the characteristics of successful collaborative R&D projects and the obstacles to such efforts.

This paper summarizes the workshop discussions, highlighting key points and issues raised by participants. It does not represent the views or conclusions of speakers or participants at the workshop. This summary does not contain conclusions or recommendations of the Panel on the Government Role in Civilian Technology, Academy Industry Program, National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, or National Research Council.


Although the past decade has witnessed an increase in the number and diversity of collaborative R&D projects, such activities have been going on for many years in the United States.15 Development of the computer and the integrated circuit, for example, can be traced to research sponsored and coordinated by the U.S. government during the 1950s and 1960s. The nation's space program was built on collaborative R&D ventures involving government, industry, and universities. The biotechnology industry is largely the product of federally funded research carried out at U.S. universities.

The relatively recent increase in the formation of R&D consortia re-


Mark Bello contributed to the drafting of this summary.

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