sector and involved computer manufacturers, universities, and electronics firms in multiple R&D consortia. Although the emphasis on pre-commercial R&D may have been appropriate and many of the technical goals were accomplished, the program failed to effectively promote the adoption of new knowledge generated through the venture. Success in meeting technology development and research goals does not, therefore, guarantee project success. Moreover, one assessment found that firms participating in the software engineering ventures sponsored under Alvey neglected to devote sufficient attention to in-house R&D projects linked to the consortia’s agenda.122 Cooperation cannot substitute for investment by firms in in-house R&D capacities. Finally, although valuable research results were generated, the lack of government support for diffusing the technology among participating firms and of incentives to bridge the R&D phases to commercialization efforts may have hindered the program’s impact on the United Kingdom’s information technology base.
Most private and mixed public-private cooperative R&D programs established over the past decade are, in the broadest context, attempts to address apparent weaknesses in a nation’s scientific and technological infrastructure. Cooperative R&D ventures can play a role in support of this objective. One of the most important potential benefits of cooperative R&D is the promotion of technology diffusion and adoption, a weakness in recent U.S. technological performance. Japanese cooperative R&D programs, in particular, have been established with this objective and have exhibited success in raising the technical standards of Japanese industry. The Japanese government has also acted to promote the transfer of information on best practice and the introduction of new process technologies. In the United States, SEMATECH may play a role in the diffusion and adoption of semiconductor manufacturing equipment. Collaborative R&D may also be useful in projects beyond basic research, in pre-commercial technology development. Chapter 3 outlines areas in which federal support of collaborative projects at this stage merits attention and there may be a legitimate federal role in providing financial incentives to industry-government partnerships.
Collaboration in R&D is successful when technology is transferred to member firms and adopted as a result of the collaborative effort. This typically requires a significant commitment of resources by private firms, both to the cooperative venture and to the support of parallel research within member firms. Coordination of in-house R&D capabilities, personnel, and strategic plans with the management of collective projects is necessary. Establishing channels for assigning high-quality researchers to the coopera-