. "7. Comparisons of Efforts in Materials Science and Engineering of Selected Nations." Materials Science and Engineering for the 1990s: Maintaining Competitiveness in the Age of Materials. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 1989.
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Materials Science and Engineering for the 1990s: Maintaining Competitiveness in the Age of Materials
out the world, outstripping past efforts. These take many forms, and joint ventures, multinational corporations, national and international consortia, and an array of new types of collective industrial research associations now abound. However, both the concept and conduct of cooperative R&D involving private corporations are more common in Europe and Japan than in the United States. This difference derives partly from the smaller domestic or regional markets, and hence the smaller resources for R&D, in other countries and partly from distinct philosophical convictions regarding competitive behavior. Whatever the reasons, cooperative industrial R&D plays a more active and pivotal role in national affairs overseas than it does in the United States. Increasing numbers of nations rely heavily on government-orchestrated technology development programs in which collaborative arrangements between government, universities, and industry are integral to their strategic approach.
In many European countries there is an extensive network of industry-specific collective associations with independent laboratory facilities, usually operating with a government subsidy along with some formal basis for industry funding. In addition to these strictly national efforts, R&D conducted under the auspices of the European Economic Communities (EEC) represents one of the most extensive collaborative efforts in existence. It involves more than 1 million workers, major research laboratory centers, and a multibillion dollar budget. Recent EEC programs have focused on cooperative R&D requiring direct participation and funding by private firms. Examples of programs relevant to materials science and engineering include ESPRIT, Basic Research in Industrial Technologies for Europe (BRITE), and European Research in Advanced Materials (EURAM).
Japan probably has the most prolific system of cooperative research programs and organizations. Major categories consist of at least 18 government centers, 600 local centers, and many semipublic groupings. The major industry-specific cooperative R&D efforts are funded primarily by MITI and are conducted through more than 50 research associations as authorized by Japan’s Industrial Technology Law. Advanced materials for future industries are a featured item on MITI’s collaborative R&D agenda.
A distinct feature of U.S. cooperative R&D activities is their diversity. There is no cohesive approach to R&D. Individual researchers, universities, private corporations, and all levels of government participate to different degrees and at different times to meet specific but individual needs. Although the United States has no direct cooperative system, organizational framework, or national policy comparable to those of its competitors, some marginal improvement in this direction is evident. Antitrust laws have been modified, and industrial consortia (e.g., Microelectronic and Computer Corporation, Semiconductor Research Corporation, and the new Sematech) are on the rise. Executive orders are in place to promote better use of the national