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The Government Role in Civilian Technology: Building a New Alliance
One participant noted that the government will need a way to assess the "value added" by each prospective partner in a collaboration. The personnel and technical contributions of collaborating firms must enhance prospects for achieving project goals and, ultimately, the technological advantage that motivated the cooperative effort. Moreover, steps must be taken to ensure the participation of small companies, an important source of new ideas and innovations. Government loans or loan guarantees might be used to encourage innovative small companies to participate in cooperative projects. In addition, it was suggested, carefully crafted tax incentives might encourage large U.S. companies to assist smaller businesses as they work to develop new technologies and products. Finally, many participants recommended that collaborative projects should be required to meet a series of technical milestones and should be monitored periodically for progress.
Participation of Foreign Companies
As participants noted, it is increasingly difficult to distinguish between U.S. and foreign companies. Just as U.S.-based firms have subsidiaries overseas, foreign corporations have operations in the United States that employ U.S. workers and provide federal and state tax revenue. Some public and private sector representatives at the workshop suggested that if a foreign-owned U.S. subsidiary pays taxes in the United States, it should be eligible to participate in government-supported R&D collaborations. It was also noted that foreign participation in collaborative research can benefit U.S. companies. In many key areas, workshop participants said, foreign firms are at the forefront of technological know-how. To be competitive, U.S. companies must draw on these repositories of expertise.
For an overview of methods to promote development in small firms, see P. Shapira, "Helping Small Manufacturers Modernize," Issues in Science and Technology 7(Spring 1990): 49-54.
See Stephen J. Kline and Nathan Rosenberg, "An Overview of Innovation," in The Positive Sum Strategy, eds. Ralph Landau and Nathan Rosenberg (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1986) and David C. Mowery, "The Diffusion of New Manufacturing Technologies," in The Impact of New Technologies on Employment and Economic Growth, eds. Richard M. Cyert and David C. Mowery (Cambridge, Mass.: Ballinger, 1987).
For an overview of the innovation process, see Stephen J. Kline, Models of Innovation and Their Policy Consequences, Report INN-4B (Stanford University, Stanford, California, 1990).
See Wendy Schacht, Commercialization of Technology and Issues in the Competitiveness of Selected U. S. Industries: Semiconductors, Biotechnology, and Superconductors (Paper prepared for the Congressional Research Service, Washington, D.C., 1988).
For an overview of some of these difficulties see The President's Council on Competitiveness, Report on National Biotechnology Policy (Washington, D.C., 1991).