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ATP Benefits Detailed in New Report

April 16, 1999

The expected economic benefits from the Advanced Technology Program far outweigh program costs, according to a new report issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The report, Advanced Technology Program Performance of Completed Projects, Status Report Number 1, was prepared by economist William F. Long of Business Performance Research Associates Inc. The report provides the most detailed examination to date of the outcomes of the earliest ATP projects.

The study covers all 38 ATP projects completed by the end of March 1997, documenting research accomplishments, subsequent work by the companies to commercialize the results, and near-term outlooks for the technologies. It also lists the reasons for failure of 12 other terminated projects that were selected between 1991 and March 1997.

The 38 projects surveyed in Long's report cover a broad range of ATP investments. Most (34) were single-company projects, though many of them involved subcontractors. Of these, almost all were projects by small companies (28). The technologies were distributed over seven broad technical areasCchemicals and chemical processing; materials; discrete manufacturing; energy and environment; biotechnology; information, computers and communication; and electronicsC with the majority in electronics.

ATP contributed $64.6 million to the 38 projects. Industry provided more than half the funding.

According to Long, the potential benefits forecasted for just three of the projects in the study for which detailed economic analyses have been done far exceed the total ATP expenditures for all 50 projects in the report and, in fact, will likely exceed the total costs of the program to date.

Other results noted in the study include :

  • Technology acceleration Sixty-six percent of the projects reported that they would not have proceeded at all without ATP support; the remaining projects reported gains of a year and a half or more due to ATP support.

  • Gains in technical knowledge as measured by technical achievement awards  seven projects figured in technical achievement awards for their companies, often for more than one award.

  • Commercialization of new technology  For 24 of the 38 completed projects, a new product or service is on the market, or a new process is being used to improve the quality or reduce the cost of an existing product or service.

  • Company growth Of the 27 small, single-applicant companies, nearly 60 percent have more than doubled in size since their ATP award began, one from 20 employees to 400.

  • Terminated projects Twelve projects were terminated during the study period (out of 280 announced projects). Of these, financial consideration or changes in management led to the termination of five projects, five were canceled due to organizational problems in joint ventures, and two because of difficulties in achieving the technical objectives.

Copies of the Advanced Technology Program Performance of Completed Projects, Status Report Number 1 (NIST SP 950-1) may be obtained from the ATP Economic Assessment Office, (301) 975-2064, or e-mail to atp@nist.gov . The report is available on the web at www.atp.nist.gov/atp/pubs.htm