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Government Program Brings Big-Time Benefits

Photonics Spectra
Dec 1997
Marilyn McCabe

WASHINGTON -- Guts and glory go hand in hand under the US Department of Commerce's Advanced Technology Program, which gives developmental and financial assistance to groups willing to take on high-risk research projects.
A recent study of recipients indicates that the program's assistance contributes to accelerated technology development time, and also may provide benefits beyond the projects funded by the initial awards.
The study surveyed the 28 project teams funded through the program in 1991. Most companies estimated that the award helped reduce technology development cycles by 50 percent, typically reducing a six-year process to three years as a result of the program's strict requirements. The projects, whose selections are based on anticipated benefit to the national economy, require disciplined and integrated project planning and management with an emphasis on collaboration. The study also states that the financial resources from the award not only stabilized the projects but also acted as a financial catalyst, attracting additional funding sources to the company.
Twenty-four of the participants reported that they adapted the program's practices to other projects, reducing product-development time, and realized more revenue by capitalizing on projects and applications related to the program's funded projects.
Santa Monica, Calif.-based Accuwave Corp. received an award in 1992. According to Accuwave President and CEO Neven Karlovac, "With the grant, we were able to extend our previous research on volume holography to infrared wavelength division multiplexing. This put us way ahead of the market, speeded up development and enabled us to get additional private funds. We were able to put several new products on the market, and that helps us thrive."
The program provides funding on a cost-sharing basis to for-profit industries to carry out high-risk research and technology development that potentially offers significant benefits to the economy. The commerce department awards the grants based on the technical and business merits of the proposed projects.

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