The National Research Council’s (NRC’s) Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB) was asked by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) Office of Exploration Systems to convene a series of workshops on technology policy issues related to the advancement of human and robotic exploration and development of space (see Chapter 2 for more detailed information on the policy context and planning of the workshop). The second workshop in the series—the subject of this report—focused on the interrelationship between government, industry, and academia in the development of technology. The steering committee agreed that focusing the discussion at the second workshop on mechanisms for cooperation and on programs encouraging different types and levels of interaction would be important in scoping the issue. The committee selected examples for discussion at the workshop to provide NASA with new information and ideas on developing modes of interaction between its programs and those of other stakeholders, especially in long-term technology development and partnerships. Not all the examples relate to space technology; some involve technology in general. The committee also purposely chose not to look at collaborative programs within NASA.
The workshop agenda was divided into three discussions. The first centered on industry-government relationships at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)—in particular, on the phased competition and spiral development models used in the Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) program (Chapter 3). The second discussion examined various cooperative models used by the Department of Defense (DOD), including the Mentor-Protégé program, the Multidisciplinary Research Program of the University Research Initiative (MURI) program, and the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program (Chapter 4). The third discussion focused on some of the mechanisms used by the National Science Foundation (NSF), including the
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Government/Industry/Academic Relationships for Technology Development: A Workshop Report 1 Summary The National Research Council’s (NRC’s) Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB) was asked by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) Office of Exploration Systems to convene a series of workshops on technology policy issues related to the advancement of human and robotic exploration and development of space (see Chapter 2 for more detailed information on the policy context and planning of the workshop). The second workshop in the series—the subject of this report—focused on the interrelationship between government, industry, and academia in the development of technology. The steering committee agreed that focusing the discussion at the second workshop on mechanisms for cooperation and on programs encouraging different types and levels of interaction would be important in scoping the issue. The committee selected examples for discussion at the workshop to provide NASA with new information and ideas on developing modes of interaction between its programs and those of other stakeholders, especially in long-term technology development and partnerships. Not all the examples relate to space technology; some involve technology in general. The committee also purposely chose not to look at collaborative programs within NASA. The workshop agenda was divided into three discussions. The first centered on industry-government relationships at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)—in particular, on the phased competition and spiral development models used in the Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) program (Chapter 3). The second discussion examined various cooperative models used by the Department of Defense (DOD), including the Mentor-Protégé program, the Multidisciplinary Research Program of the University Research Initiative (MURI) program, and the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program (Chapter 4). The third discussion focused on some of the mechanisms used by the National Science Foundation (NSF), including the
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Government/Industry/Academic Relationships for Technology Development: A Workshop Report Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers (IUCRC) and the Engineering Research Centers (Chapter 5). While other federal agencies have additional examples of collaborative models, the steering committee felt these three government entities provided good synergy with NASA’s direction and programs and fit within the time frame of the workshop. The DOD and DARPA collaborative models are very much government-mission-oriented, while the NSF models are more generic in their support of science, research, and technology. The three sections below set forth the main points from each discussion. Each set of relationships is discussed in further detail in the chapters that follow. The committee chose to present the material in the order of discussion at the workshop.1 DARPA RELATIONSHIPS The two workshop panelists provided insight into the relationships developed between government and industry during the phased competition of the UCAV program at DARPA. Topics of interest included the use of government prizes to spur technology development, Other Transaction Authority (OTA) mechanisms, the attributes of DARPA’s organizational structure, and DARPA’s focus on satisfactory program progress. DARPA was described by one panelist, Steve Welby, Deputy Office Director at DARPA, as having a unique mission—the pursuit of revolutionary, high-payoff research and development that bridges the gap between fundamental discovery and eventual military use. He mentioned three key organizing principles that affect DARPA’s mechanisms of collaboration: (1) it is a small, flexible, and flat organization, (2) it is a project-based organization, and (3) there is little permanent infrastructure. The DARPA decision-making process was described as informal and relatively flexible, using a top-down approach to problem definition and a bottom-up approach to idea generation. The agency, according to Welby, sought to attract new ideas through open competition, with the goal of maximizing innovation. All of these defining characteristics ultimately affect DARPA’s technological relationships. The agency was also described as managing the risk of technology development, not necessarily as maturing technology. Programs are structured with inherent means for assessing progress. The agency, according to Welby, was not afraid to cancel programs, and collaborators and contractors were well aware of this attribute. DARPA also uses varied mechanisms for contracting and collaborating, including, but not limited to the following: Technological prizes, The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, University faculty as program managers, University contracts and grants; and Large system demonstration contracts with industry. 1 Workshop presentations can be found online at <www.nas.edu/aseb/Space_Tech_workshops.html>. Accessed December 15, 2004.
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Government/Industry/Academic Relationships for Technology Development: A Workshop Report The UCAV program was discussed because it exemplified a collaborative mechanism. Both panelists, from different perspectives, provided insight into why the program is thought to be successful. The program was conducted using OTA contracting in lieu of the usual Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR). This mechanism, according to the panelists, allowed more flexibility in contracting and team formation and management and facilitated cost sharing by industry. Welby mentioned that DARPA’s program development usually began with small proof-of-concept efforts that, if successful, mature into full programs. A Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for white papers allows significant interaction between government-sponsored researchers and the respondents to the announcements. The second panelist, Bobby Joe, described the relationship of his company, Northrop Grumman, with other team partners during the UCAV program. When the proposal bid was being prepared, teammates from other companies were considered almost as part of Northrop Grumman itself. A relationship of trust was established between the team members. Mechanisms for conflict management and resolution were discussed, along with intellectual property issues. The discrete life cycles of programs and the short terms of program managers at DARPA were discussed as possible negative aspects of the agency. One panelist admitted that institutional memory might suffer because there was no overlap between program managers, but he said that in some ways this could be a good thing, because a new program manager might be more inclined to apply fresh ideas to the solution of important problems. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE RELATIONSHIPS This panel session focused on the different mechanisms by which various stakeholders collaborate with the Department of Defense (non-DARPA) on research and development. The three areas of collaboration discussed were the DOD Mentor-Protégé program, the Multidisciplinary Research Program of the University Research Initiative (MURI), and collaborative efforts with industry (both small and large industry). The Mentor-Protégé program was described by one panelist, Curtis Peninger, as “a marriage between participants.” He discussed the good relationship his company, Coast/ACM, had developed over the past 19 years with Northrop Grumman Space Technology (formerly TRW). As a result of this relationship, Coast/ACM was given many opportunities that small businesses would not normally be given. The program encourages large businesses to assist and team with small businesses. Several federal agencies, including NASA, have mentor-protégé programs, but the DOD program—uniquely—calls for partial reimbursement of expenses incurred by the protégé company and requires that the mentor-protégé relationship include a third element—academia. Benefits are seen for all three partners in the program. Large businesses see new advances in technology. Small businesses learn new methods and processes. Universities receive all-important funding for basic research and student support. The MURI program, a mechanism for collaboration between universities and the DOD, was discussed next. Jeff Shamma, of the University of California, Los Angeles, described his experience with the program as a leader of one team awarded funding in the program. The use of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary teams to perform research
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Government/Industry/Academic Relationships for Technology Development: A Workshop Report was an important aspect of the program, according to Shamma. The collaborative relationships developed between member universities provide opportunities to share resources and knowledge (one example is the sharing of hardware and software testbeds by members of` the UCLA-led MURI team). Contact with program managers at DOD before and during the solicitation process, to the extent allowed by government solicitation guidelines, is encouraged in order to better align expectations and projected results from the research. Annual site visits to the universities that participate on a MURI are also part of the process. Shamma noted that MURIs were not constricted by large volumes of paperwork or reporting requirements. Publications and presentations of technical work are considered more important products—something that is rather appealing to academia. The DOD laboratories and the universities are not allowed to compete, a proscription that Shamma believed was crucial to developing positive relationships between collaborators. One negative aspect of the MURI effort discussed by Shamma was the program’s tendency to have large numbers of team members. Multicampus management can be inefficient, subcontractor billing is slow, and the involvement of many participants reduces the amount of money available to individual campuses and principle investigators. Another challenge is the inability of the team’s leading university (or principal investigator) to direct the research focus of the other team members owing to the lack of control over funding for these members. The initial 3-year duration (with an option for renewal) of the MURI awards lends itself to academic research. Shamma noted that most of the breakthroughs in MURI research came after the midpoint of the award, so some longevity of funding was helpful in achieving success. Although not directly applicable to the MURI discussion at hand, panelists at this point mentioned that when industry and academia cooperated, universities should not be placed in the critical path to technology development. John Roth from MicroSat Systems discussed his perspective on DOD’s relationship with small business—in particular, his company’s experience after winning the first OTA contract between small business and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) on the TechSat21 program. Investors were asked to provide funds in the amount of $10 million to leverage the $26 million provided by DOD. At first, the OTA seemed to be a good contracting mechanism for the company because of the flexibility it provided. There was opportunity for MicroSat to recoup its investment through the government’s purchase of its follow-on satellites. However, a change in leadership at AFRL led to the laboratory’s cancellation of the project, which at the time made up 90 percent of MicroSat’s portfolio. Roth said that his company learned important lessons from its survival experience. He believed that the government/industry contracting relationship was very one-sided in favor of the government. For small companies asked to cost share on contracts, there is no guarantee that the government will honor the original intent of the agreement, since military management changes frequently and all programs are incrementally funded annually by Congress and subject to cancellation. Government should be cognizant that its decisions on cost share and program redirection can have dire immediate effects on small businesses. Discussion on the part of the attendees centered on the role of small business in the competition for technological prizes. Several people said that investment companies
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Government/Industry/Academic Relationships for Technology Development: A Workshop Report would most likely not be willing to back a small company in its quest for a technological prize, but that individual investors would be necessary. Jim Ryder spoke from a Lockheed Martin perspective. He mentioned the need for businesses to vigorously connect technology development to the marketplace. A balance between pleasing stockholders and making technical advances must be a company goal. Ryder, also speaking for several colleagues at Lockheed Martin with whom he had discussed the steering committee’s focusing questions, mentioned that government should avoid placing government laboratories in direct competition with industry. Competitive solicitations and awards should be favored when there are multiple, legitimate, capable, and credible bidders and when the procurement schedule permits. There is also a role for noncompetitive awards when there is a clear concentration of capability, whether it be an intellectual capability or a facility capability. Ryder mentioned that industry preferred to keep university work out of the critical path to technology development. Universities have a valid role, which does not, however, lend itself to being monitored for weekly or monthly progress or to achieving multiple milestones on a rigid schedule. The space-based laser program is an example of cooperation that involved Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. The program ultimately collapsed. A review of the program and the three companies revealed that each company was withholding its best work from the program for competitive reasons. International cooperative efforts are even more challenging in this respect. Ryder commented that the United States must move forward now in technology development if the country desires a long-term program in human and robotic exploration. The effort will have to last a long time or it will not be successful. If the country is going to continue in human exploration, it is time to seriously determine what high-risk technical problems must be solved. It is time for the government to work with universities and companies to figure out which high-risk steps are necessary. NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION RELATIONSHIPS John Hurt, NSF, and John Huggins, Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center (BSAC), discussed NSF’s collaborative efforts involving government, industry, and academia. Hurt began by describing the various collaborative efforts at NSF, including the Engineering Research Centers (ERCs), the Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers (IUCRCs), and the Partnerships for Innovation program. Key issues in these collaborations are intellectual property and usage rights and the sometimes conflicting missions and motivations of the partners. Hurt described innovation as “simply turning knowledge into something useful.” Almost two decades ago, NSF decided that something should be done to induce academic institutions to partner with the private sector on research. The research at the universities would be no less fundamental than what is already being done, but it would be in areas of interest to the private sector. Hurt stated that although this collaboration initially produced a clash of cultures, it had proven to be successful. Several factors affecting innovation were discussed by Hurt. Infrastructure is a key factor in innovation. One area of concern is the new role that some universities are playing in the commercialization of technology. Hurt said that academic institutions do not have the capability or infrastructure to be successful in this role—they should focus
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Government/Industry/Academic Relationships for Technology Development: A Workshop Report on research and education. Culture and physical location also affect innovation. Pockets of innovation exist throughout the United States in regions that, for various reasons, promote innovation. Innovation happens in organizations that think in terms of investment and that are willing to take risks by looking for new ways to do things. NSF began to fund science and technology centers (STCs) and ERCs that would perform research in areas important to the private sector and find ways to collaborate with the private sector. Hurt also mentioned that companies wanted access to academic faculty for consultation and directed research and to students for internships and other employment. Several examples were discussed at the workshop of how the centers took ideas that seemed high risk or unattainable and turned them into products used by companies. The discussion led by John Huggins mentioned the implications of being associated with an IUCRC. The credibility that the NSF logo brings to a center is recognized across the campus and across the nation. The long history of the IUCRC program also provides center directors with guidelines on how to operate a center successfully. Vehicles for collaboration were discussed by Huggins in the second portion of his presentation. The obvious collaboration vehicle for the BSAC is the interaction between industry representatives and academic researchers. This interaction, which goes beyond a simple description or presentation of results, centers on developing relationships. Member companies hire students for both summer internships and full-time employment after graduation. Industry representatives to the BSAC have unique opportunities to spend longer periods of time with practitioners of similar technologies. Huggins has observed business relationships developing out of these associations. Another collaborative vehicle that has proven to be successful for BSAC is the “in residence” concept. Center members (i.e., companies) send their employees to campus as visiting fellows. Each fellow spends a year or two working on projects in which he or she is interested or working in a research group as one of the University of California, Berkeley, faculty. Huggins described it is as an excellent way for individuals to immerse themselves in a broad technology area. Huggins spent the remainder of his presentation discussing the general topic of government, industry, and academic relationships. He mentioned the paradigm of a technology conduit, conceived by BSAC co-director Albert Pisano. (Huggins himself thought that a helix would also be a good description of the paradigm.) The “conduit” begins with the generation of a research idea. The idea might lead to the preparation of a grant proposal to a federal agency. If the proposal is successful—that is, if it attracts funding—some amount of reusable basic technology will be generated, which will, in turn, attract interest from the center’s industry partners. If the center is doing commercially relevant research, the early, high-risk phase of technology development is supported by federal funds. During the project’s tenure, the research can be modified or a new research idea can even emerge. This new idea becomes the basis for a new proposal, starting the cycle over again. The key is to use federal funding to develop technology for new devices and processes that can be used in the industry, and to reduce the risk of this development.