search Centers (ERCs) located at 18 academic research institutions. The ERCs engage in multidisciplinary engineering research and are funded by industry, NSF, and state and local governments.
The decentralized nature of university research has made links between industry and academia an attractive option for regional initiatives. The North Carolina Microelectronics Center, for example, fosters cooperation in computer manufacturing.
Private Sector Collaborative Ventures. A wide range of cooperative R&D mechanisms were employed by U.S. industry. Most collaborative projects involve joint activity without direct government involvement. Moreover, participation in joint R&D is initiated for many reasons. Greater competition from innovative foreign producers, for example, has prompted some U.S. companies to seek the technological synergies of industry-wide cooperation. Other motives include the desire to lower R&D costs, to monitor the capabilities of rival firms, and to learn state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques.
Most discussion of collaborative R&D has focused on joint research efforts in R&D-intensive, high-technology industries such as microelectronics. Collaborative R&D projects have also been formed by a number of utilities and in traditional industries as well. The Textile/Clothing Technology Corporation and National Apparel Technology Center, for example, have been established to work on product and process technologies in the textile and apparel complex.
One way in which the government has attempted to foster collaborative ventures is through relaxation of antitrust restrictions on cooperative R&D through the National Cooperative Research Act (NCRA) of 1984. It is generally assumed that this law has helped to stimulate the formation of private consortia. One of the first ventures formed under NCRA is the Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation (MCC), a consortium of companies that concentrates on application-oriented hardware and software R&D in the electronics sector.
MCC's budget totals approximately $55 million per year. It is based in Austin, Texas, and funded almost entirely through private sector funds.1 MCC conducts advanced R&D in application-oriented computer hardware and software. Chartered largely in response to the Japanese government-sponsored Fifth Generation Computer Project in artificial intelligence, the consortium's R&D program includes projects in artificial intelligence, computer language and architecture, manufacturing and assembly, computer-aided design, superconductivity, and scanning and transfer of leading foreign technologies.2 Recently, MCC has readjusted its program emphasis to include work in information networks, voice-data integration, and telecommunications.3
Since its foundation in 1982, MCC's development has reflected the tension between consortia established to perform long-term research and the desire of member companies for more immediate commercial returns on investment. MCC's charter stressed long-term projects in high-risk research, and projects were built around 6 to 10-year time frames. Given this initial focus, some member companies have been concerned over the consortium's apparent difficulty in producing commercializable technology.4 Technology transfer of the R&D work performed at MCC, moreover, appears to have been hindered by the large proportion of outside personnel directly hired to staff programs.
Recently, MCC has been stressing short-term projects as well as long-term R&D. Incremental improvements in technology and transfer of the initial results of MCC-developed technology to participants have been increasingly emphasized. Operations are being restructured along the lines of a traditional business and have expanded into new areas, including quality assurance, marketing, and time-to-market improvements, considered by many to be as essential to commercial success as possession of leading-edge technology. As in SEMATECH, vertical integration of suppliers and manufacturers has become an important mission.
Government-Industry Collaboration. Examples of past U.S. government support of private sector technology efforts include funding for agricultural extension services, support for basic and applied R&D in computers and semiconductors, support of civilian aircraft and aerospace R&D by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and R&D energy projects sponsored by the Department of Energy, among others. (See ''Government Support Beyond Basic Research'' in Chapter 2 for a discussion of these initiatives.)
During the 1980s, Congress enacted several laws aimed at indirect support of private sector technology development and the promotion of government-industry collaboration. The 1980 Stevenson-Wydler Act established information offices on products and services at government-operated laboratories. The 1986 Federal Technology Transfer Act permitted government-owned and government-operated laboratories to conduct cooperative R&D with companies and universities. The 1989 Technology Transfer Act extended the use of cooperative R&D agreements to contractor-operated government facilities.
In addition, the Semiconductor Technology Research Corporation (SEMATECH) was established in 1987 with federal support by the Department of Defense. More recently, the Department of Energy (DOE) has created a program of Cooperative Research and Development Agreements, which it hopes will stimulate technology cooperation between DOE and industry. The Department of Commerce, through the National Institute of Standards
and Technology (NIST), operates the Advanced Technology Program which is aimed at promoting cooperative R&D in generic, pre-competitive technologies.
These ventures face several challenges, including determination of the proper allocation of intellectual property rights, division of financial support between public and private sponsors, and effective mechanisms for transferring the results of R&D to member firms, among others.
The founding of the 14-member SEMATECH semiconductor manufacturing consortium marked a significant change in federal policy in civilian technology.5 It is an example of direct government support for technology development in cooperation with industry in R&D and manufacturing. The Austin-based SEMATECH, which has an annual budget of $225 million, receives $100 million in federal funding support through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a federal agency. In addition to its headquarters and major research and production facilities in Austin, Texas, SEMATECH established research centers in 11 universities and has joint programs with Oak Ridge and Sandia national laboratories.
It is not possible to provide a definitive assessment of SEMATECH's progress in meeting program or operational objectives.6 The consortium has only been in operation for four years out of a planned five-year action plan (1988–1993). Several observations, however, can be made regarding SEMATECH's initial programs to assist the competitiveness of the U.S. semiconductor industry.
In addition to supporting semiconductor manufacturers and semiconductor equipment and materials suppliers, SEMATECH should be viewed as an experiment in collaboration between industry and the federal government. During its brief history, SEMATECH has pursued a variety of mechanisms to enhance the manufacturing processes, supplier equipment, and business relationships of its member companies and many affiliated firms. The original purpose of SEMATECH was to demonstrate manufacture of dynamic random access memory (DRAM) semiconductors and to support state-of-the-art semiconductor manufacturing technology through demonstration of on-site capabilities in its wafer fabrication plant. The majority of SEMATECH resources was at first targeted for in-house R&D.7
SEMATECH officials have concluded that resources should be devoted to areas other on-site manufacturing facilities. The widely varying quality of member companies' production facilities, it is assumed, would limit dissemination of highly sophisticated process technology. In addition, there has been a perceived threat from foreign control over timely supply of finished semiconductors, equipment, and materials to U.S. semiconductor companies. Finally, the change in priorities may have reflected the concerns of SEMATECH's largest participants, whose main concern is on en-
suring a reliable domestic supply of key semiconductor tools and equipment.8
Today, SEMATECH is focusing the majority of its efforts on improving the products of semiconductor equipment suppliers and strengthening the links between semiconductor manufacturers and suppliers of semiconductor manufacturing equipment and materials such as advanced lithography and chemical vapor deposition. SEMATECH is emphasizing direct exchanges of know-how between producers and suppliers9 and is trying to forge complementary relationships between firms with differing business strengths.10
The consortium is also devoting considerable effort to development of equipment standards and methodologies for evaluating semiconductor equipment. Its wafer fabrication plant provides equipment manufacturers with a valuable test bed for new hardware. In addition, the facility is a means for companies, particularly ones without large capital resources, to pool some of their R&D activities.11 The consortium's most important asset in technology transfer may be its reliance on delegated staff at SEMATECH from member companies. In March 1991, delegated staff constituted about two-thirds of SEMATECH's 335 professional and technical employees.12 This mechanism heightens the flow of process know-how and research findings to and from the consortium and member companies.
SEMATECH retains a considerable on-site research and development program. For example, it has demonstrated in its laboratory 0.8-micron manufacturing capability with 5-inch wafers.13 SEMATECH's four major areas of technology development are manufacturing processes, lithography, metallization, and metrology.14
APPENDIX F References and Bibliography
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Advisory Council on Federal Participation in SEMATECH. 1990. SEMATECH 1990: A Report to Congress. Washington, D.C. May.
Alic, J. A. 1988. Cooperation in R&D. Paper prepared for the Office of Technology, U.S. Congress, Washington, D.C.
Alic, J. A. 1990. Cooperation in R&D. Technovation 10(5):319-331.
Alic, J. A., and D. Robyn. 1990. Designing a civilian DARPA. Optics & Photonics News 1(5):17-22.
Ando, A., and A. J. Auerbach, eds. 1988. The Cost of Capital in the United States and Japan: A Comparison. Cambridge, Mass.: National Bureau of Economic Research.
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Baily, M. N., and R. Z. Lawrence. 1990. The Incentive Effects of the New R&E Tax Credit. Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution.
Barfield, C. E., and W. A. Schambra, eds. 1986. The Politics of Industrial Policy: Competing in a Changing World Economy Project. Washington, D.C.: American Enterprise Institute.