Click for next page ( 9


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 8
2 U.S.-Japan Collaboration in Biotechnology and Optoelectronics Research and Development PERSPECTIVES OF U.S. RESEARCHERS In order to improve symmetrical access in specific fields of research, a number of questions must be answered. These include: (1) Which organizations today are doing research, and how do the capabilities of U.S. and Japanese organizations compare? (2) How much collaboration is now occurring between the United States and Japan? (3) How do researchers judge the value of collaboration, problems, and prospects for the future? Views on the third aspect are necessarily subjective and practically dependent on anecdotal as opposed to systematic evidence. A prerequisite for improving access to Japanese R&D is knowing where to look, a difficult question for many U.S. researchers. For those with little to no experience in dealing with Japan, He obstacles may be so great as to discourage efforts. Those with more experience, who speak Japanese and have spent time in Japan, find information more accessible, although many still must utilize Japanese intermediaries in locating specific information. In addition, staying on top of fast-breaking developments requires constant vigilance, no matter what the country of origin. It would, therefore, be difficult to compile a comprehensive status report on current R&D efforts in biotechnology and optoelectronics in the United States or Japan without the information soon becoming obsolete. While a comprehensive compilation was beyond the scope of the discussion at the U.S.-Japan meeting, participants shared information on current research activities and organizations performing R&D in these two fields in order to place 8

OCR for page 8
9 collaborative activities in the proper context and explore possibilities for expanded collaboration. A summary of information gleaned from those discussions and from business and scientific publications on the state of R&D in each country in optoelectronics is contained in Appendix A. Similar information on biotechnology comprises Appendix B. PRELIMINARY SURVEY The lack of objective information, combined with the dynamic nature of technology development, suggested the need for a preliminary survey to ascertain the perceptions of U.S. researchers.9 For this reason, the Office of Japan Affairs conducted a preliminary survey of researchers involved in biotechnology and optoelectronics R&D in order to assess the extent of collaboration between U.S. and Japanese organizations and examine attitudes about problems with and prospects for U.S. access to Japanese science and technology information in these fields. The survey was sent to a range of organizations (universities; public and private companies; government organizations, including national labs and agencies; and a few consultants, consortia, public companies, and nonprofit organizations). The biotechnology sample was much more heavily weighted, both in initial sample and positive response rate, to private companies than that of optoelectronics. The optoelectronics sample, because of its more basic research focus, was more heavily weighted toward universities. In addition to information on the type of organization and research conducted, the survey solicited information on the extent, mechanisms, and effectiveness of collaboration with Japanese researchers and organizations. The mechanisms include financial support, joint ventures, personnel exchange, and exchange of technical documents and journals. Respondents were also asked to evaluate their experiences in collaborating with Japanese counterparts and their expectations for the future. A copy of the survey is included in Appendix C. Surveys were sent to 270 organizations involved in biotechnology and 90 organizations involved in optoelectronics. A response rate of 33 percent (90 positive responses) was achieved for biotechnology, and a response rate of 40 percent (36 positive responses) was achieved for optoelectronics. OPTOELECTRONICS~URVEY SAMPLE The sample for optoelectronics comprised universities (32 percent), companies (49 percent), and government organizations (19 percent). Of the respondents, 42 9 The results of the pilot survey are outlined below. A similar survey of perceptions of Japanese researchers could be conducted.

OCR for page 8
10 percent were universities, 33 percent were private companies, and 17 percent classified themselves as government organizations, including government agencies and national laboratories. Respondents also included a consultant, a consortium, and a public company. The responding organizations ranged in size from 10 to 15,000 research and technical staff members, with a range of 4 to 600 research and technical staff members conducting research in optoelectronics. Only 3 of the organizations surveyed conduct research that is 100 percent dedicated to optoelectronics. The respondents characterized their principal responsibility as basic research (33 percent). Other responsibilities included applied research (22 percent); product development and research administration (14 percent each); and strategic/financial planning and "other"~ (8 percent each). Half of those responding classified their research as more precompetitive than proprietary, with the overwhelming majority describing their research as basic or applied rather than oriented toward product development. BIOTECHNOLOGY - SURVEY SAMPLE Of the 90 responding organizations, 23 percent classified themselves as universities and 70 percent as private companies. Respondents also included a nonprofit organization and 5 public companies. The responding organizations ranged in size from 10 to 7,500 research and technical staff members, with a range of 5 to 600 conducting R&D in biotechnology. Thirty-four of the organizations had a research effort 100 percent dedicated to biotechnology. Most of those responding were individuals involved in research administration and applied research (37 percent and 19 percent, respectively), followed by basic research (12 percent), and product development (11 percent). Those who categorized themselves as involved in strategic/financial planning made up 4 percent of the sample; the remaining 3 percent chose "other" to describe their activities. "Other" included individuals involved in licensing/acquisition, a chief executive officer, and information staff. On a scale from precompet~tive to proprietary, over half viewed their research efforts as heavily weighted toward the proprietary realm. When asked to define their research in more traditional terms, such as basic, applied, or product development, the overwhelming majority categorized their work as applied research or product development. SURVEY RESULTS The survey indicated that U.S. researchers in both optoelectronics and 10 "Other" included general management, market research, and academic ad'T~inistrai~on.

OCR for page 8
11 biotechnology see cooperation with Japan as increasing and desirable. The respondents perceive a significant amount of some type of interaction or collaboration under way between the United States and Japan in these two fields. Thirty-seven percent of the biotechnology respondents and 44 percent of the optoelectronics respondents indicated that their organization is participating in some type of collaboration or interaction with Japanese organizations. The types of interactions mentioned most often, however, confirm the standard image that the flow of researchers is from Japan to the United States and that the flow of technology is in the opposite direction. The most common types of interactions reported by both groups included "receipt of Japanese visitors for short tours" and "contact with Japanese researchers at U.S. conferences." Although the majority of respondents characterized the nature of their interactions with Japan in general terms such as "exchange of technology/information," a significant portion in each field characterized it as "providing technology/information in exchange for capital." The reverse situation, "providing capital in exchange for technology/information," was more common in optoelectronics than biotechnology. Ten percent of the respondents from the biotechnology field also characterized their interactions with Japan as "providing marketing rights/market access for capital." The vast majority of both groups (62 percent in biotechnology and 72 percent in optoelectronics) expect long-term rather than short-term benefits from their interactions with Japan. There was a difference between the two groups in the types of current interaction selected as most beneficial, perhaps reflecting the more basic research orientation of the optoelectronics group.ll The three modes of interaction rated most highly by the optoelectronics respondents all involved personal contacts: personnel exchange, attendance at conferences in Japan, and contact with Japanese researchers at U.S. conferences. The top three modes for the biotechnology respondents, on the other hand, were more industry-oriented modes of orientation: direct financial support from Japanese organizations, collaborative R&D (a preference was expressed for private rather than government-sponsored collaborative R&D), and licensing of technology to Japanese organizations. Both the optoelectronics and biotechnology respondents rated collaborative R&D among the top three types of interaction that they most want to develop in the future. The optoelectronics respondents expressed an interest in expanding personnel exchanges with visits to Japanese laboratories. Despite the differences in industrial versus academic orientation between the biotechnology and optoelectronics respondents, both evaluated interaction with Japanese industrial labs as most desirable. Those involved in biotechnology R&D, however, displayed a relatively small degree of interaction with Japanese 11 Respondents to the biotechnology survey were more heavily weighted toward industry than those in the optoelectronics survey. Ibe optoelectronics survey unlike the biotechnology survey, was also sent to government research organizations.

OCR for page 8
12 consortia: only 3 percent reported current interaction with Japanese consortia, compared to 19 percent of the optoelectronics sample. On the other hand, 13 percent of the biotechnology sample expressed an interest in interaction with Japanese consortia. The optoelectronics sample perceived itself as having greater access to Japanese science and technology than the biotechnology sample, again probably reflecting the more basic research orientation of its members. Similarly, slightly over half of the optoelectronics respondents rated Japanese organizations as "open" to transferring knowledge and technology, whereas a similar proportion of the biotechnology respondents rated Japanese organizations as ''closed.''l2 Nearly half of both groups, however, indicated that they were unable to judge Japanese willingness to enter into formal joint projects in precompetitive research. Both samples reported significant needs for more information. Both saw the most value in information about R&D at particular Japanese institutions and assessments of the level of Japanese technology development in particular areas. Although both groups considered the language barrier and resistance from Japanese firms as major problems in accessing information, nearly half of the biotechnology sample indicated that "lack of information about where to look" was a major obstacle. A few respondents reported that they had been denied access to Japanese technical information under conditions they felt were unjustified. Complaints ranged from general comments about Japanese delegations that come to the United States to "pick your brains" and then offer nothing in return, to reports of more subtle behavior such as instances where U.S. requests to visit a Japanese facility were ignored rather than denied, to specific cases of perceived "unfair" or counterproductive Japanese government activities. Specific cases cited included the delay of patent applications made by U.S. firms in Japan until a Japanese company was able to patent a similar device and the Japanese government's cancellation of an ongoing series of biotechnology conferences. In the latter case, after two successful conferences, a proposal for a third one was not approved by the JSPS.13 The survey respondent reported that U.S. participants had found Japanese colleagues very open and were surprised when the conferences were cancelled. It should be noted that the JSPS later reconsidered its decision, and plans for a third conference proceeded. Among those involved in R&D in both biotechnology and optoelectronics, 12 The survey asked respondents to evaluate Japanese openness on a scale from O (closed) to 5 (open). Proportials provided here are for respondents who chose 3, 4, or 5 versus those who chose 0, 1, or 2. 13 The conferences referred to were the "Conferences to Promote U.S.-Japan Joint Projects and Cooperation in Biotechnology" organized by Arthur Humphrey at Lehigh University.

OCR for page 8
13 increased interaction with Japan in the future was deemed overwhelmingly useful. As brought out in the survey, the overall U.S. perception of past and future trends in technical interactions with Japan indicates that, in both fields, technical interaction has increased over the past five years and is likely to continue to increase over the next five years. The results of this preliminary survey highlighted some of the perceptions of U.S. researchers about access to Japanese technical information, demonstrated the desire for more information, outlined the scope of current collaboration, and provided a mechanism for researchers to express their desires about future interactions with Japan. The survey results suggest some potential avenues for collaboration, such as the need to expand information on biotechnology R&D in Japan, perhaps drawing on expertise at Japanese industrial biotechnology consortia. In the field of optoelectronics there was considerable interest in improving mechanisms for researcher exchange in ongoing collaborative R&D projects. A more extensive survey in the United States, coupled with a similar one in Japan, could provide U.S. and Japanese policymakers, researchers, and business people with information that could help them define areas appropriate for future mutually beneficial collaboration in these two fields.