R&D: Who's Helping Whom?

Collaboration efforts aim to drive big ideas.

Back in 2003 General Motors Corp. stated the following with regard to its perspective on research collaboration: "GM is using collaborative research programs to seek manufacturing processes with the greatest competitive advantage. We seek collaborative partners with the best ideas. GM's success depends on a global research perspective."

That philosophy remains in force today. Among its latest moves, the automaker in September announced that it and the University of Michigan's College of Engineering had launched a new collaborative research laboratory on the university's Ann Arbor campus. "Mechamatronics," GM's new approach to designing that combines mechanisms, smart materials and electronics, is the research topic of the collaborators.

Collaborative R&D is not the sole province of GM, of course, or the automotive industry. Other current collaborative manufacturing efforts include the following:

  • DuPont has entered into a research agreement with Affinergy Inc. to help in DuPont's research and development of a new line of bio-based products.
  • Hewlett-Packard is teaming up with the Singapore government's Agency for Science, Technology and Research to research technologies that provide secure, seamless transmissions of video, audio and multimedia content over future high-speed broadband and wireless networks.
  • Remmele Engineering will participate in a portion of Lockheed Martin's radar R&D programs. As a result of an agreement between the two companies, Remmele also will design, develop and fabricate advanced liquid cold plates to provide thermal protection for critical radar components.
  • Dow Chemical Co., Union Pacific and Union Tank Car Co. have assembled a joint-project team for the development of a next-generation rail tank car for highly hazardous chemicals. An advisory board of academics, industry experts and former regulatory personnel will help guide the tank car design.
  • GlaxoSmithKline and ChemoCentryx Inc. have formed a strategic alliance to discover, develop and market novel medicines for treating inflammatory disorders.

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