Since its foundation in 1982, MCC's development has reflected the tension between consortia established to perform long-term research and the desire of member companies for more immediate commercial returns on investment. MCC's charter stressed long-term projects in high-risk research, and projects were built around 6 to 10-year time frames. Given this initial focus, some member companies have been concerned over the consortium's apparent difficulty in producing commercializable technology.4 Technology transfer of the R&D work performed at MCC, moreover, appears to have been hindered by the large proportion of outside personnel directly hired to staff programs.
Recently, MCC has been stressing short-term projects as well as long-term R&D. Incremental improvements in technology and transfer of the initial results of MCC-developed technology to participants have been increasingly emphasized. Operations are being restructured along the lines of a traditional business and have expanded into new areas, including quality assurance, marketing, and time-to-market improvements, considered by many to be as essential to commercial success as possession of leading-edge technology. As in SEMATECH, vertical integration of suppliers and manufacturers has become an important mission.
Government-Industry Collaboration. Examples of past U.S. government support of private sector technology efforts include funding for agricultural extension services, support for basic and applied R&D in computers and semiconductors, support of civilian aircraft and aerospace R&D by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and R&D energy projects sponsored by the Department of Energy, among others. (See ''Government Support Beyond Basic Research'' in Chapter 2 for a discussion of these initiatives.)
During the 1980s, Congress enacted several laws aimed at indirect support of private sector technology development and the promotion of government-industry collaboration. The 1980 Stevenson-Wydler Act established information offices on products and services at government-operated laboratories. The 1986 Federal Technology Transfer Act permitted government-owned and government-operated laboratories to conduct cooperative R&D with companies and universities. The 1989 Technology Transfer Act extended the use of cooperative R&D agreements to contractor-operated government facilities.
In addition, the Semiconductor Technology Research Corporation (SEMATECH) was established in 1987 with federal support by the Department of Defense. More recently, the Department of Energy (DOE) has created a program of Cooperative Research and Development Agreements, which it hopes will stimulate technology cooperation between DOE and industry. The Department of Commerce, through the National Institute of Standards