SRC Proposal at National Science and Technology Summit Calls for Prioritizing Government - Industry Research Collaboration To Boost Multiple American Industries' Competitiveness

Proposed Consortium Model Builds Upon 26 Years of Success in the Semiconductor Industry, Aims to Improve Effectiveness of Federal Research Investments Across Critical Technology Areas

Aug 19, 2008

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. and OAK RIDGE, TN - Seeking to improve the return on investment in federal research and increase the pool of future scientists and engineers, the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) today recommended that the federal agencies devote more resources to consortium-based research in collaboration with various industries critical to the U.S. economy. The recommendation was made at a summit of key government policy makers, academic leaders, and industry executives convened by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in response to Congressional concerns about American competitiveness. The concept is backed by strong support from representatives of industry and the university research community.

During a formal discussion at the summit about federal investments in science and technology, SRC President and CEO Larry Sumney noted the growing need for prioritizing and leveraging federal research dollars, and the ability-based on SRC's record-for industry-driven research consortia to help address that need.

"The research enterprise has gone global and the federal government needs to make its investments really count," said Sumney. "One way for the government to increase the value of research is to participate in consortia with industry to plan, fund, and manage research that is relevant to industry." He emphasized that such partnerships not only focus research on tough technical problems, but also create pathways for students to careers in science and engineering.

Sumney outlined the essential elements of the SRC's success in driving innovation within the semiconductor industry. Foremost is to "plan where you are going." Citing the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS), Sumney suggested that other industries collectively develop detailed roadmaps in collaboration with government agencies that specify options for overcoming the most pressing barriers.

"The semiconductor roadmap provides a proven model with which an industry can efficiently drive collaboration among its members, who otherwise are competitors in the marketplace," said Sumney. "One of the lessons we've learned is that when government participation is strategically added to the team, the results can net an unprecedented amount of progress for science and technology and, ultimately, for the economy."

"The federal research enterprise once could afford some inefficiency because we as a nation were so far ahead of the rest of the world. Today, outstanding research is taking place and being funded in countries around the globe," added Luis Proenza, president of The University of Akron and member of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. "So the federal government must improve both efficiency and effectiveness of its research programs. The consortia model, when done well, allows research to be appropriately focused, enhances technology transfer, and attracts high caliber students to study and work in science and engineering."

Sumney recommended the federal government take the following steps, emphasizing that industry must also commit intellectual, human, and financial resources to the consortium for it to be successful:

Increase federal participation and funding for consortium-based research in collaboration with industry;

Increase funding for graduate and undergraduate fellowships in association with such research consortia to foster exposure to, and opportunities for, rewarding careers in science and engineering; and

Expand the R&D tax credit to incentivize further industry investment in consortia-based research, noting that such research tends to be pre-competitive and of broad general benefit.

Sumney concluded, "A well-designed research consortium requires commitment from government, industry, and universities, and on balance is a 'win-win-win'. Each partner gets more value from its contribution than it would by investing the same resources individually. In particular, consortia-based research helps the federal government achieve its broad research goals of advancing knowledge, addressing government science and technology needs, improving education, and strengthening the economy."

About SRC Celebrating 26 years of collaborative research for the semiconductor industry, SRC is the world's leading university-research consortium for semiconductors and related technologies. SRC's team defines industry needs, invests in and manages the research that gives its members a competitive advantage in the dynamic global marketplace. Awarded the National Medal of Technology, America's highest recognition for contributions to technology, SRC expands the industry knowledge base and attracts premier students to help innovate and transfer semiconductor technology to the commercial industry.

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