know how to distinguish the role that technology plays in economic growth from that played by access to capital or other factors, but there is widespread agreement today that technology is key.

Government Role in R&D and Technology Development

Technology comes about because someone has done R&D—either in government, industry, universities, or some combination of the three. Just as the role of technology in economic growth is beyond dispute, Dr. Spencer said that few would argue that government has and should continue to play a crucial role in R&D investment for long-term research. There might be disagreements over the share of the R&D budget that goes to the biological sciences versus the physical sciences, but not many people in Washington would quarrel over the need for government to fund long-term R&D.

In the area of technology development, the government's role is much more controversial. In the semiconductor industry, in which Dr. Spencer has spent much of his career, Dr. Spencer said that countries in other economic regions do not debate whether to fund technology development; they simply do it. Examples in Japan include the Semiconductor Leading Edge Technologies (SELETE) initiative and the Association of Super-Advanced Electronics Technologies (ASET); Europe and Taiwan also have programs to fund semiconductor development, such as the Joint European Submicron Silicon Initiative (JESSI), now the Microelectronic Development for European Applications (MEDEA), and the Hsin Chu Park facility. In each region, these programs are considered experiments. In this country, SEMATECH certainly has been viewed as an experiment. When the semiconductor industry founded SEMATECH in 1987 as a government-industry partnership and then turned it into a fully private activity in 1996, the industry saw the consortium partly as an experiment in partnering, with the hope that lessons learned could be applied more broadly.1

Dr. Spencer said that he believed that the ATP falls into the category of an experiment—a large and important one, but an experiment nonetheless. Therefore it is important for all of us in government and industry to understand clearly the program's objectives and history. Most important, it is necessary to focus on what is measurable about the ATP, to draw lessons from the program, and to apply them elsewhere to future government-industry partnerships. This is one of the objectives of the program today.

Dr. Spencer then introduced the symposium's next speaker, Ray Kammer, the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Dr. Spencer has had the privilege of knowing Mr. Kammer for a number of years,

1  

 William J. Spencer and Peter Grindley. "SEMATECH After Five Years: High-Technology Consortia and U.S. Competitiveness." California Management Review, Summer, 1993. pp. 9–32.



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