Collaborate To Win?

Dec. 21, 2004

While industrial R&D funding is projected to grow at less than 1% in 2003, the figures don't reflect increases in value received via collaboration. One example is Vision 2020, a chemical industry research collaboration specializing in pre-competitive R&D. Last year it leveraged $92 million and fostered collaborations among 82 chemical companies, 21 universities and 14 government offices/laboratories. Of last year's $92 million budget, $44 million was a federal grant with chemical company members providing $48 million. At General Motors Corp. (GM) a collaborative research program is reaching out to university labs. The latest is a five-year program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge. "MIT was selected for its expertise in material processing and manufacturing methods," says Steve Holland, director of manufacturing systems research and chief scientist for manufacturing, GM R&D Center, Warren, Mich. "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." Holland says the collaboration with MIT will concentrate on technical cost modeling, an analysis technique that investigates process alternatives. "It's the technology feasibility study that would precede the broader business case analysis." GM's list of research collaborators includes Brown University, University of Michigan, Carnegie-Mellon University, Stanford University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Jiaotong University in Shanghai, China, RWTH-Aachen University in Germany and the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, India.

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