Printer Friendly

Needed: more technological commercialization.

Needed: More technological commercialization

American corporations are finding it more and more difficult to stay at the leading edge of technology, and also are finding it harder to reap the commercial rewards of innovations, according to John Young, CEO, Hewlett-Packard, Palo Alto, CA. The notion of relying on technological breakthroughs no longer works, and a corporation's ability to capture the volume shipments and market share that allow it to put more money into R&D is declining, Young told economists at a September 11 dinner meeting of a Stanford centennial conference on "Economic Growth and the Commercialization of New Technologies." The conference was sponsored by the Technology and Economic Growth Program of Stanford's Center for Economic Policy Research.

Because the goal is to raise the standard of living, corporations must combine technology and people in a way that enables them to be either more productive or more creative. "The only way to increase technological change is with the skilled people who make it happen. We must combine technology and people to make it more creative, more price-oriented, more profitable," he said.

More money needs to go to nondefense research, Young suggested. In fact, half of the money that presently goes for research is paid for by the federal government, and, of that, two-thirds goes to defense research. In terms of nondefense research and development monies, the US spends less than any other Western nation. Germany spends 2.6 percent of its GNP; Japan spends 2.8 percent on nondefense R&D, while "the United States has stagnated at 1.8 percent for the past 20 years," he said.

Young suggested several steps that could be taken to encourage development of commercially oriented technology: * Encourage the National Science Foundation to continue funding engineering research centers at universities in areas of commercial relevance. * Create and fund a civilian Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency as an independent foundation, in order to fund projects at universities in areas of potential commercial interest. * Name an undersecretary for the US Office of Technologies; get funding and start a program in industrial technology in the Department of Commerce's new Technology Administration. * Provide money and management for the Advanced Technology Program within the National Institute for Standards and Technology. * Review the role of federal labs - there are 700 labs with "obsolete and overlapping research charters." Technology transfer should be one of the criteria by which these labs are evaluated. Manufacturing labs could be encouraged. * Encourage generic manufacturing research and joint production activities. * Increase government support of cooperative research in generic manufacturing technologies.

The manufacturing sector is important, Young said, because manufacturing is the essence of technology commercialization, and the manufacturing sector performs 96 percent of the private sector's research and development.

"The manufacturing sector's productivity growth has been ten times faster than the nonmanufacturing sector during the past decade," Young said. Another focus area is to improve skills of the American work force.

US school children have a very weak technical education in elementary and high school. Part of the problem is that, according to the National Science Foundation, there are 60,000 unqualified math and science teachers in the high schools, and, Young suggested, poor teachers in a subject field don't attract student interest in that field.

Only 15 percent of graduating high-school seniors say that they are interested in math and science, while only 9 percent of entering university freshmen say they plan to study either math or science.

Young suggested several steps be taken to improve the skills of the work force: * Strengthen the elementary and high-school programs through a forgivable loan program for secondary math and science teachers. * Make it a government priority to invest in university research and facilities. * Develop new vehicles for life-long learning, such as university-televised courses for industry, or community college classes to upgrade manufacturing supervisors' skills.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Hewlett-Packard Co. chairman John Young's speech at Stanford Center for Economic Policy Research conference
Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Nov 1, 1989
Previous Article:Europe - a feeling of confidence.
Next Article:Machining cell integration: the role of the consultant.

Related Articles
H-P Will Split into Two, Separating Instruments from Computers.
Barbs and boards.
H-P Will Split into Two, Separating Instruments from Computers.
Steal this idea: university patent-infringement suits flourish. (Update).

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters