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With the launch of SEMATECH in 1987, the US government moved to actual financial support for collaborative industrial R&D. SEMATECH was founded as a partnership between US semiconductor companies and the DOD. In the succeeding years, as the US semiconductor industry regained competitive strength, the federal contribution to SEMATECH was gradually reduced and then eliminated.11 The consortium, now named International SEMATECH, includes countries based in Europe, Korea, and Taiwan in addition to those based in the United States.

ATP was established in 1988 as a program of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). ATP supports collaborative research among companies. The program has operated at a level of $150 million to $200 million per year in recent years. As mentioned above, the FY 2005 budget included funds to continue existing projects but no money to fund new proposals. Figure EL-1 shows how ATP funding has fluctuated over the years. ATP also supports an extensive program of evaluation and research, which has supported work at the National Academies and the National Bureau of Economic Research.12

Possible federal actions to derive advantage from government–industry partnerships and industrial consortia include the following:

  • Create “Innovation Acceleration” grants to stimulate high-risk research.13 These grants would be supported through a set aside of 3% of agency R&D budgets.

  • Restore the support of ATP and its ability to fund new projects to the level of recent years.

  • Streamline and shorten the ATP application process and timeline.14

  • Give applications from single companies parity with those from joint ventures or consortia.15

  • Extend the window for ATP award applications, accelerate the decision-making process for awards, and extend the period in which awards can be made.16

11

National Research Council. Securing the Future: Regional and National Programs to Support the Semiconductor Industry. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2003. See also the “History” page on the International SEMATECH Web site, http://www.sematech.org/corporate/history.htm.

12

See the ATP Web site. Available at: http://www.atp.nist.gov/factsheets/1-a-1.htm.

13

Council on Competitiveness. Innovate America. Washington, DC: Council on Competitiveness, 2004.

14

National Research Council. The Advanced Technology Program: Challenges and Opportunities. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1999.

15

Ibid.

16

National Research Council. The Advanced Technology Program: Assessing Outcomes. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2001.



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