John M. Rowell
Collaborative activities, consortia, and joint ventures have been prominent in the first decade of high temperature superconductivity (HTS) R&D in both Japan and the United States. For that reason, the WTEC panel considered that it would be valuable to devote a separate chapter of this report to a summary of the purpose and achievements of Japan's collaborative projects in superconducting electronics (SCE). Each activity, with its different objectives, style and achievements, was an experiment, and some continue to operate. While we do not wish to evaluate their success in achieving their objectives, we do feel that differences in styles can now be reviewed, and that perhaps certain styles are better matched to specific goals.
Collaborative projects, in both Japan and the United States, fall into three broad styles depending on how centralized the work location is and how coordinated the R&D effort is across the work of the participating members: centralized, joint venture, and distributed projects.
In a centralized project, all (or most) of the work is carried out in one location, which in some cases is a new laboratory built for the project. The participating member companies of the project send their researchers to the central laboratory, where their management is often hired by the government agency that is sponsoring the project. So the management, with the administrative and research staff, form what can be considered a new precompetitive research company with a specific lifetime.
A joint venture is a coordinated R&D project carried on across a number of laboratories. Generally, the research staff remain in their own home laboratory, although in some cases they work in the building of another member company, where they might report to management established by the joint venture.
In a distributed project, funding is provided to a number of laboratories for related R&D, but there is no coordination of the work between the different companies. The staff members continue to report to management from their own company.