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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Public-Private Technology R&D Partnerships: Lessons from US Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles


Government-industry R&D partnerships can play an important role in advancing the public interest. A widely cited example is the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV). It was launched in 1993 by the Clinton Administration and three US automakers, with the goal of advancing the development of energy efficient vehicles. It has come to be seen as a model, and in many ways it is: it is proceeding according to schedule; it increased the profile of advanced technology opportunities; and it led to better working relationship between the federal government and automakers. It also indirectly led to technology advancement – by inspiring more aggressive investments by European and Japanese automakers that, in turn, through a boomerang effect, inspired US automakers to do likewise. It is a success in the sense that both sets of partners are pleased. But has it served the public interest? Has it lead to the best investment of government R&D funds and has it accelerated the commercialization of socially beneficial technologies? The answers to these latter questions are still uncertain.

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