ian DARPA idea. However, when we evaluate the ATP, we still look at commercialization; this is not a bad thing, although it does reflect some of the program's initial contradictions.
Dr. Richard Nelson of Columbia University asked panelists, especially congressional staffers, how the ATP has changed over its 10-year life. Mr. Turner responded that the program today is 20 times bigger than when it started and 3 to 4 times bigger than at the end of the Bush administration. With a $10 million or $60 million program, it is almost impossible to focus on specific technology areas; the program simply funded the best ideas that came forward. As the program grew, some structure was imposed in terms of technology areas to be funded, and this was simply not thought of in the ATP's early years.
A questioner asked about the tension between the desire to have ATP generate externalities and the fact that ATP recipients have intellectual property rights to ATP-funded projects. The questioner observed that patent rights are not perfect and, even in the presence of strong intellectual property rights, it seems that economists agree that the social return to R&D is high. Moreover, many innovations could not be commercialized in the absence of patent protection. In response, Dr. Barfield agreed that there was a balance to be struck, that is, some intellectual protection was necessary for ATP awardees even though perfect protection might undermine the goal of technology diffusion. Dr. Barfield added that it seemed contradictory for a company to seek an ATP grant because the private return was not fully appropriable, but at the same time ask to "fence off" that return through intellectual property protection.