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Improving the effectiveness of public–private R&D collaboration: case studies at a US weapons laboratory

Research policy / v.26 no.6. 1998, pp.661-675

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Abstract : Abstract This paper presents the results of the first systematic case studies of Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) between private firms and one of the large US weapons laboratories, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). These cases cover a diverse array of technologies, and include firms with very different characteristics (participant firms differ, for example, in their size and internal R#x0026;D budgets). They are intended to illustrate the operation of CRADAs in different settings. Our study suggests that CRADAs between the DOE laboratories and industry are most effective for projects that draw on the historic missions and capabilities of the laboratories, rather than for projects that focus on civilian technologies with little relevance to these missions. Efforts to improve the operation of CRADAs must look beyond the establishment and assignment of intellectual property rights to actions by laboratory and firm personnel in at least four areas: (1) increasing budgetary and managerial flexibility in project operations; (2) ensuring a high degree of commitment by the collaborating parties and continuous interaction between the research teams; (3) improving laboratory researchers familiarity with user needs; and (4) developing sufficient internal R#x0026;D and technical expertise within the collaborating firm(s) to absorb and apply the results of collaboration. Evaluations of CRADAs that rely on quantitative estimates of the direct benefits of these projects in the immediate aftermath of their completion also appear to be unreliable and distorted.

Keyword : R#x0026;D . CRADA . Public#x2013;private collaboration

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