The Advanced Technology Program's Approach to Technology Diffusion
R T. Ruegg
This paper examines the approach to technology diffusion of a public-private partnership program in the United States, the Advanced Technology Program (ATP), that puts industry in the lead and emphasizes spillover effects for national economic benefit. The paper identifies key features of the program by which it promotes technology diffusion, reports on early progress, and discusses challenges faced by the program in achieving intra-industry and inter-industry technology diffusion. The following specific strategies of the ATP for fostering technology diffusion are discussed: (1) selecting enabling technologies for funding which by their nature are expected to be particularly conductive to broad use and diffusion; (2) selecting projects with integrated research and business/economic plans, and which are structured organizationally to provide clear pathways to early applications of the technology; (3) encouraging interfirm and other collaborative relationships to strengthen the pathways to rapid development, commercialization and broader diffusion; (4) providing forums to facilitate the diffusion of technology; and (5) evaluating project outcomes, analyzing factors influencing diffusion, and feeding back the results to inform the selection process. Direct and indirect paths of technology diffusion are discussed and illustrated. Alternative structures of project organizations are modeled and their implications for technology diffusion are discussed. Illustrative examples and results are included. The approach of the ATP to technology transfer and its early experience may offer ideas of interest to policy makers in Central and Eastern European countries who seek transformation to a market economy.