ISTEC'S VIEW OF SUPERCONDUCTIVITY WORLDWIDE

A unique responsibility of ISTEC is that it undertakes studies of the state of superconductivity research worldwide and makes projections of the growth of the industry. There is no equivalent U.S. organization. The closest is CSAC, but its membership represents only a small fraction of the U.S. industry. At the workshop on 10 April 1997, Mr. Toriihara presented some of ISTEC's findings. With his kind permission, some of his viewgraphs are presented in Figs. 9.5 to 9.8 and Tables 9.5 to 9.9.

Many of these figures are self explanatory, but some deserve special comment. For example, Figure 9.5 and Table 9.5 show that the companies involved in superconductivity R&D in Japan (not only SCE, but all areas of SC application) are predominantly medium to large companies, with over half having over 10,000 employees. This is in contrast to the United States, where SC has become largely the domain of small companies. Figure 9.6 is particularly disturbing, in that it shows U.S. budgets for SC, after dropping sharply with the termination of the supercollider, eroding further until they were exceeded by Japan in 1995. The funding levels in each country in 1995 are given in Table 9.7. The projections for 1997 and 1998 in the United States, if they could be included in this figure, would be even more gloomy. Figure 9.8 is a representation of Japan's "strategic plan" for superconducting applications of all types. Perhaps most interesting are Tables 9.8 and 9.9, which summarize ISTEC's comparisons of the strengths and weaknesses of SC activities in Japan with those in the United States and Europe. To a great extent, the ISTEC findings reinforce those of this panel, as discussed throughout this report.


Fig. 9.5. Japanese companies involved in SC, by industrial category (ISTEC).

Table 9.5
Japanese Companies Involved in SC, by Annual Sales and Number of Employees


Fig. 9.6. Japanese government budget for superconductivity technology development compared to that of the U.S. government, 1989-96 (ISTEC).


Fig. 9.7. Japanese Government budget for superconductivity technology development: (above) 1996, and (below) growth between 1988 and 1996 (ISTEC).


Fig. 9.8. Prospects for HTS research and development in Japan (ISTEC).

Table 9.6
Superconductivity R&D in Japan, the United States, and Europe

Table 9.7
Comparison of Funding for Superconductivity in FY 1995 ($ millions)

Country or Region

Total

Federal Government

USA

 

200

JAPAN

334

214

GERMANY

118

70

FRANCE

40

20

UK

 

(25)

EU

(20- 30)

 

Source: ISTEC

Table 9.8
Comparison of Superconductivity R&D

in Japan and the United States

Item

Japan

USA

General

Main projects are under the government's leadership.

Most projects are operating on a large scale.

Projects cover a limited field of study.

Main projects are under the government's leadership

Projects include large and small scale endeavors.

Projects cover an extensive field of study.

Project

Period

Long-term

Middle and short- term

Cooperation

Research

Not active

Active; CRADAs between national laboratories, universities and enterprises

Basic research

Lacks support

Continuous support available

Application research

Not very active

Active

Enterprises

Mostly large enterprises

Small to medium-sized enterprises are common. Venture enterprises are especially active.

Promotion of small to medium-sized enterprises

Not active

Active

Government funding

Gradual increase

Gradual decrease


Source: ISTEC

Table 9.9
Comparison of Strengths and Weaknesses of Superconductivity Programs in Japan, the United States, and Europe


Source: ISTEC

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Published: July 1998; WTEC Hyper- Librarian