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346 TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER SYSTEMS IN THE UNITED STATES AND GERMANY special need for cooperation with external partners. One way to cope with this problem is the self-organization of industrial research associations under the um- brella of the AiF. The share of cooperative AiF-related research (e.g., in metal manufacturing and construction materials) is distinctly above average (see Table 3.23~. For the success of AiF projects in this area, it is important that not only SMEs but also large companies are members of the association. For example, in the automotive industry, SMEs are suppliers for large companies; therefore, the large companies play a decisive role in the definition of production standards. Cooperative projects of the AiF are carried out not only by the institutes of the member associations, but also by external institutes such as university and Fraunhofer institutes. In addition, the diffusion of technology is supported by a dense network of supporting institutions such as the Chambers of Industry and Commerce, industrial associations outside the AiF, the Rationalisierungs-Kura- torium der Deutschen Wirtschaft, and the transfer centers of the Ministry for Economic Affairs. The survey of German universities showed a high intensity of university- industry relations in production technology (see Table 3.4~. At present, there are 30 university institutes in the area of machine tools. If the definition of produc- tion technology is broadened (e.g., to include materials processing, handling, metal shaping, and assembling), the number of institutes is in the range of 150 to 200. There is frequent cooperation among different institutes in special interdis- ciplinary research areas (Sonderforschungsbereiche) initiated by the German Re- search Association. The Fraunhofer Society has a special focus on production technology, with 12 institutes and a staff of about 1,500 people active in the area. The institutes cover all fields of production technology, from machine tools to production man- agement. A specific problem for German industry in production technology has been the integration of microelectronic devices, because German suppliers adjusted quite late to the growing demand, and German users had to buy foreign products. However, the situation has improved considerably in recent years. Overall, production technology is a good example of long-standing, close relations between industry and research institutions. In addition, technology trans- fer in this mature industry is supported effectively by various institutions and associations, based on industrial self-organization. CONCLUSION: AN ASSESSMENT OF TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER IN GERMANY This analysis of the mechanisms and institutions of technology transfer, the examination of the four focal areas, the comparison of the U.S. and German struc- tures, and the assessment of the German panel members allow for some general conclusions.
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TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER IN GERMANY 347 Because technology transfer is an exchange of technological, technical, and organizational know-how between partners, effective technology transfer needs the particiation of both research institutions and industry. The German compa- nies cover a broad spectrum of technology areas and have both strengths and weaknesses. The four focal areas selected for this study emphasize the weak- nesses; had other areas been selected (e.g., telecommunications, transport, or en- vironmental technology), the picture would have been more positive. However, as a general assessment of the industrial environment, the weaknesses often con- cern emerging, future-oriented fields; and in these fields, new research results are insufficiently used for industrial development. In contrast, the diffusion of tech- nical knowledge in mature areas such as production technology is effectively supported by a close network of institutions and associations based on industrial self-organization. The relationships of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to research institutes are already quite close, but there is still great poten- tial for including more SMEs in technology transfer. As to the research environment, Germany has a broad and diverse system of research institutions. In particular, many university institutes, An-Institutes, state- run institutes, and Fraunhofer institutes focus on applied, industry-oriented ac- tivities. German science is internationally competitive, also in newly emerging fields. Unfortunately, it is precisely in these fields that the industrial base is often small, so that scientific institutions sometimes have difficulty in finding appropri- ate industrial partners. Nor is the cultural environment favorable for research institutions to produce spin-out companies. Technology transfer in Germany is primarily institutionalized rather than personalized. Its main channels are contract and cooperative research supported by other means such as conferences and informal meetings. Bridging institutions like the Fraunhofer and An-Institutes play a decisive role in technology transfer. Many professors in engineering departments of universities come from industry, which implies a flow of knowledge from industry to university and, later on, close university-industry relations. These relations are documented, among other means of technology transfer, by a high number of master's and Ph.D. theses done in industrial enterprises or in cooperation with companies. In polytechnical schools, the preparation of a thesis in industry is compulsory. The appointment of professors from industry and the preparation of theses in cooperation with industrial enterprises are effective instruments of technology transfer that are not a matter of course in other countries. Some transfer channels are presently of low or medium importance, but they will play an increasing role in the activities of nonindustrial R&D institutions. These channels comprise the presentation of research results, opportunities at trade fairs, the organization of seminars for industrial researchers, the establish- ment of sponsor organizations, regional incubator centers, and research parks. The cultural environment in Germany is characterized by a limited entrepre- neurial spirit. This situation is due to a low-risk mentality on the individual and
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348 TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER SYSTEMS IN THE UNITED STATES AND GERMANY societal levels. A visible consequence is the high number of regulations in all areas of entrepreneurial activities, imposing additional costs and a cumbersome bureaucracy. Furthermore, financial incentives for entrepreneurs are low, prima- rily because of the lack of R&D investment tax credits, as well as unfavorable asset-based financing and revenue taxation. Lack of private venture capital and public offering opportunities results in fewer incentives for new technology-based firms in emerging fields. However, as the comparison with the United States shows, this channel of technology transfer is very effective. In addition, in Ger- many, the environment for professional mobility is unfavorable, so technology transfer through the movement of individual researchers is less significant than it is in the United States. In particular, personnel exchanges between research insti- tutions and industry are restricted by an inflexible regulatory framework for pub- lic institutions. A further problem within the cultural environment is the public' s low acceptance of some new technologies (e. g., genetic engineering). To summarize, many instruments of technology transfer work well. How- ever, a more risk-taking, dynamic spirit is necessary, in particular in emerging fields of technology, if Germany is to maintain its international technological competitiveness.