CRADA Mania; October 1993; Scientific American Magazine; by Tim Beardsley; 3 Page(s)
When economic competitiveness became a front-burner issue during the 1980s, Congress passed laws to entice companies to adopt technologies developed in government laboratories and encourage government researchers to team up with industry. The Clinton administration, keen to secure benefits from research, is going even further down that road. It is telling the Department of Energy's huge national laboratories, as well as the National Institutes of Health and other agencies, that they must make their expertise available to industry. But change is bringing problems in its wake.
To show that they are solidly on board, officials and laboratory directors point proudly to the explosion in cooperative research and development agreements, or CRADAs. These agreements between government laboratories and industry or universities allow participants to share the costs of a collaboration. In return, the nongovernment partner is granted some rights over any offspring, in the form of intellectual property. The national laboratories have been allowed to have CRADAs only since 1989, but they now boast close to 500. Their directors talk expansively of devoting 20 percent of their budgets to CRADAs and like arrangements within a few years.