A seven-year-old project between the United States and Japan, just completed, has shown that international cooperation in R&D can stimulate the creation of marketable products in highly competitive industries. So successful has the project proven that a successor program is now underway, broadening the scope of the original.
The United States and Japan initiated the novel agreement on technological development a decade ago, when American industrialists and policymakers still regarded the Japanese way as the epitome of how to turn basic research into marketable products. The Joint Optoelectronic Project (JOP) aimed to improve the availability of R&D-prototype optoelectronic devices to researchers in computer systems, thus promoting advances in computing as well as commercialization of the devices.
Officially started as a two-year trial in February 1995, the project proved so successful that it was extended to seven years. Since then, U.S. participants alone have produced seven patents, 27 patent applications, and 147 scholarly papers. They have also supported 75 graduate students, most of whom will enter the industry without the need for expensive on-the-job training.
"All the stated goals of the project have been successfully achieved," notes the final report on the project, issued in 2002. In addition, the report continues, "the JOP has resolved several issues concerning implementation of international research collaborations and significantly promoted the prototyping service."
Demonstrating the success in practical terms, a follow-on project …