Time for a Return of Large Corporation Research Labs?

是时候回归大公司研究实验室了吗?

2019/05/17 22:00
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从科学发现转向消费产品往往需要一些中间步骤。几十年前,许多更大的......

It often takes a number of intermediate steps to move from a scientific discovery to a consumer product. A few decades ago, many larger and even mid-sized corporations spent a lot of money on research and development laboratories, which focused on all of these steps. Some of these corporate laboratories like those at AT&T, Du Pont, IBM, and Xerox were nationally and globally famous. But the R&D ecosystem has shifted, and firms are now much more likely to rely on outside research done by universities or small start-up firms. These issues are discussed in "The changing structure of American innovation: Cautionary remarks for economic growth," by Ashish Arora, Sharon Belenzon,  Andrea Patacconi, and Jungkyu Suh, presented at conference on  "Innovation Policy and the Economy 2019," held on on on April 16, 2019, hosted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, and sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

从科学发现转向消费产品往往需要一些中间步骤。几十年前,许多大型甚至中型企业在研发实验室上花了很多钱,专注于所有这些步骤。其中一些企业实验室,如AT&T,杜邦,IBM和施乐公司的实验室,在全国和全球都很有名。但研发生态系统已发生转变,企业现在更有可能依赖大学或小型初创公司进行的外部研究。这些问题在Ashish Arora,Sharon Belenzon,Andrea Patacconi和Jungkyu Suh在“创新政策与经济2019年”会议上发表的“美国创新的变化结构:经济增长的警示性言论”中进行了讨论。于2019年4月16日,由国家经济研究局主办,由尤因马里恩考夫曼基金会赞助。

On the importance of corporate laboratories much better decades of US productivity growth, they authors note:

关于企业实验室在几十年美国生产率增长方面的重要性,他们的作者指出:

From the early years of the twentieth century up to the early 1980s, large corporate labs such as AT&T's Bell Labs, Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center, IBM's Watson Labs, and DuPont's Purity Hall were responsible for some of the most consequential inventions of the century such as the transistor, cellular communication, graphical user interface, optical bers, and a host of synthetic materials such as nylon, neoprene, and cellophane. But starting in the 1980s, firms began to rely more on universities and on start-ups to do their R&D. Here's one of many examples, the closing of the main DuPont research laboratory:

从二十世纪初到二十世纪八十年代初期,AT&T的贝尔实验室,施乐公司的Palo Alto研究中心,IBM的沃森实验室和杜邦的Purity Hall等大型企业实验室负责本世纪最重要的一些发明,如作为晶体管,蜂窝通信,图形用户界面,光学纤维和许多合成材料,如尼龙,氯丁橡胶和玻璃纸。但从20世纪80年代开始,企业开始更多地依赖大学和初创企业进行研发。以下是杜邦主要研究实验室关闭的众多例子之一:

A more recent example is DuPont's closing of its Central Research & Development lab in 2016. Established in 1903, DuPont Central R&D served as a premiere lab on par with the top academic chemistry departments. In the 1960s, the central R&D unit published more articles in the Journal of the American Chemical Society than MIT and Caltech combined. However, in the 1990s, DuPont's attitude toward research changed as the company started emphasizing business potential of research projects. After a gradual decline in scientifi c publications, the company's management closed the Experimental Station as a central research facility for the firm after pressure from activist investors in 2016. The pattern shows up in broader trends. The authors write that "the number of publications per firm fell at a rate of 20% per decade from 1980 to 2006 for R&D performing American listed firms." Business-based R&D as a share of total R&D peaked back in the 1990s, and has been falling since then. The share of business R&D which is "research," as opposed to "development," has been falling, too.

最近的一个例子是杜邦公司于2016年关闭其中央研发实验室。杜邦中央研发中心成立于1903年,是顶级学术化学系的首选实验室。在20世纪60年代,中央研发部门在美国化学学会杂志上发表的文章多于麻省理工学院和加州理工学院的合并。然而,在20世纪90年代,随着公司开始强调研究项目的商业潜力,杜邦对研究的态度发生了变化。在科学出版物逐渐下降之后,该公司的管理层在2016年激进投资者的压力下关闭了实验站作为公司的中心研究设施。该模式显示在更广泛的趋势中。作者写道,“从1980年到2006年,每家公司的出版物数量每20年下降20%,用于研发美国上市公司。”基于业务的研发占研发总量的比例在20世纪90年代达到顶峰,并且从那时起一直在下降。与“发展”相对的“研究”业务研发的份额也在下降。

The authors tell the story of how so much research was based in corporations, or shared by corporations and universities, for the first sis or seven seven decades of the 20th century, and how the shift to a greater share of research happening universities took place. One big change was the Bayh-Dole act of 1980 (citations omitted):

作者讲述了这样一个故事,即20世纪的第一个sis或七十七年,如此多的研究是基于公司,还是由公司和大学共享,以及如何将大学研究的大部分转移到大学。一个重大变化是1980年的Bayh-Dole法案(引文省略):

Perhaps the most widely commented on reform of this era is the Bayh-Dole Patent and Trademark Amendments Act of 1980, which allowed the results of federally funded university research to be owned and exclusively licensed by universities. Since the postwar period, the federal government had been funding more than half of all research conducted in universities and owned the rights to the fruits of such research, totaling in 28,000 patents. However, only a few of these inventions would actually make it into the market. Bayh-Dole was meant to induce industry to develop these underutilized resources by transferring property rights to the universities, which were now able to independently license at the going market rate. As universities took on more research, corporations backed off. Here are a couple of examples:

也许对这个时代的改革最广泛评论的是1980年的Bayh-Dole专利和商标修正法案,该法案允许联邦政府资助的大学研究成果由大学拥有和独家许可。自战后时期以来,联邦政府一直资助在大学进行的所有研究的一半以上,并拥有此类研究成果的权利,总共拥有28,000项专利。然而,这些发明中只有少数实际上会进入市场。 Bayh-Dole旨在通过将产权转让给大学来促使工业发展这些未充分利用的资源,这些大学现在能够按照市场价格独立许可。随着大学开展更多研究,企业退缩了。以下是几个例子:

In 1979, GE's corporate research laboratory employed 1,649 doctorates and 15,555 supporting staff, while IBM employed 1,900 staff and 1,300 doctorate holders. The comparable figures in 1998 for GE was 475 PhDs supported by 880 professional staff, and 1,200 doctorate holders for IBM. Indeed, rms whose sales grew by 100% or higher between 1980 and 1990 published 20.6 fewer scienti c articles per year. This contrast between sales growth and publications drop persists into the next two decades: rms that doubled in sales between 1990 and 2000 published 12.0 fewer articles. Publications dropped by 13.3 for such fast growth firms between 2000 and 2010. A common pattern seems to be that the number of researchers and scientific papers is falling at a number of firms, but the number of patents at these same firms has been steadily rising.  Firms are putting less emphasis on the research, and more on development that can turn into well-defined intellectual property. This pattern seems to hold (mostly) across big information technology and computer firms. The pharmaceutical and biotech firms offer an exception of an industry that has continued to publish research--probably because published research is important in regulatory approval for many of their products.

1979年,GE的企业研究实验室雇用了1,649名博士和15,555名支持人员,而IBM雇佣了1,900名员工和1,300名博士学位。 1998年通用电气公司的可比数字是475名博士,由880名专业人员和1200名博士学位持有人支持。实际上,1980年至1990年期间销售额增长100%或更高的公司每年发布的科学文章减少了20.6%。销售增长和出版物下降之间的对比持续到未来二十年:1990年至2000年间销售额翻番的公羊数量减少了12.0篇。 2000至2010年期间,这类快速增长的公司的出版物下降了13.3。一个普遍的模式似乎是许多公司的研究人员和科学论文数量下降,但这些公司的专利数量一直在稳步上升。公司不太重视研究,更多的是关注可以转化为明确知识产权的发展。这种模式似乎(主要)适用于大型信息技术和计算机公司。制药和生物技术公司提供了一个例外,一个继续发表研究的行业 - 可能是因为已发表的研究对于许多产品的监管审批非常重要。

Overall, the new innovation ecosystem exhibits a deepening division of labor between universities that specialize in basic research, small start-ups converting promising new findings into inventions, and larger, more established firms specializing in product development and commercialization. Indeed, in a survey of over 6,000 manufacturing- and service-sector firms in the U.S. ... 49% of the innovating firms between 2007 and 2009 reported that their most important new product originated from an external source. But in this new eco-system of innovation, has something been lost? The authors argue that as businesses have outsourced R&D, it has contributed to the sustained sluggish pace of US productivity growth. They write:

总体而言,新的创新生态系统展示了专注于基础研究的大学之间的深化分工,小型初创企业将有前景的新发现转化为发明,以及专注于产品开发和商业化的大型,更成熟的公司。事实上,在对美国6,000多家制造业和服务业公司的调查中...... 2007年至2009年间,49%的创新公司报告说,他们最重要的新产品来自外部来源。但在这个新的生态创新体系中,有什么东西丢失了吗?作者认为,由于企业外包研发,它导致了美国生产率增长持续低迷的步伐。他们写:

Spinoffs, startups, and university licensing offices have not fully filled the gap left by the decline of the corporate lab. Corporate research has a number of characteristics that make it very valuable for science-based innovation and growth. Large corporations have access to signi ficant resources, can more easily integrate multiple knowledge streams, and their research is directed toward solving specifi c practical problems, which makes it more likely for them to produce commercial applications. University research has tended, more so than corporate research, to be curiosity-driven rather than mission-focused. It has favored insight rather than solutions to specifi c problems, and partly as a consequence, university research has required additional integration and transformation to become economically useful. This is not to deny the important contributions that universities and small rms make to American innovation. Rather, our point is that large corporate labs may have distinct capabilities, which have proved to be difficult to replace. Further, large corporate labs may also generate signi ficant positive spillovers, in particular by spurring high-quality scienti fic entrepreneurship. It's not clear how to encourage a resurgence of corporate research labs. Companies and their investors seem happy with the current division of R&D labor. But from a broader social perspective, the growing separation of companies from the research on which they rely suggests that the gap between scientific research and consumer products is growing, along with the the possibility that economically valuable innovations are falling into that gap and never coming into existence.

分拆,初创公司和大学许可办公室尚未完全填补公司实验室衰落所留下的空白。企业研究具有许多特征,使其对基于科学的创新和增长非常有价值。大公司可以访问重要的资源,可以更轻松地集成多个知识流,他们的研究旨在解决特定的实际问题,这使他们更有可能生产商业应用程序。大学研究比企业研究更倾向于以好奇心为导向而不是以任务为中心。它有利于洞察力而不是特定问题的解决方案,部分因此,大学研究需要额外的整合和转型才能在经济上有用。这并不是否认大学和小公司对美国创新的重要贡献。相反,我们的观点是,大型企业实验室可能具有不同的能力,事实证明这些能力难以取代。此外,大型企业实验室也可能产生显着的积极溢出效应,特别是通过激发高质量的科学创业精神。目前尚不清楚如何鼓励企业研究实验室重新崛起。公司及其投资者对目前的研发劳动力分工感到满意。但从更广泛的社会角度来看,公司与其所依赖的研究越来越分离,这表明科学研究与消费品之间的差距正在扩大,同时经济上有价值的创新可能会落入这一差距并且永远不会进入存在。

Afterwords

后记

Those interested in this argument might also want to check "The decline of science in corporate R&D," written by Ashish Arora, Sharon Belenzon, and Andrea Patacconi, published in Strategic Management (2018, vol. 39, pp.  3–32).

那些对这一论点感兴趣的人也可能想要检查“企业研发中的科学衰落”,由Ashish Arora,Sharon Belenzon和Andrea Patacconi撰写,发表于战略管理(2018年,第39卷,第3-32页)。

For those with an interest in the broader subject of US innovation policy, here's the full list of papers presented at the April 2019 NBER conference:

对于那些对更广泛的美国创新政策主题感兴趣的人,这里是2019年4月NBER大会上提交的完整文件清单:

  • William R. Kerr on "The Gift of Global Talent"
  • William R. Kerr谈“全球人才的天赋”
  • Ashish Arora, Sharon Belenzon, Andrea Patacconi, and Jungkyu Suh on "The Changing Structure of American Innovation: Cautionary Remarks for Economic Growth"
  • Ashish Arora,Sharon Belenzon,Andrea Patacconi和Jungkyu Suh谈到“美国创新结构的变化:经济增长的警示性言论”
  • Margaret Kyle on "The Alignment of Innovation Policy and Social Welfare: Evidence from Pharmaceuticals"
  • 玛格丽特凯尔谈“创新政策与社会福利的一致性:药品的证据”
  • Fiona Scott Morton, Carl Shapiro, and Giulio Federico, on "Antitrust and Innovation: Welcoming and Protecting Disruption"
  • Fiona Scott Morton,Carl Shapiro和Giulio Federico谈“反托拉斯和创新:欢迎和保护中断”
  • Edward L. Glaeser and Naomi Hausman on "The Spatial Mismatch Between Innovation and Joblessness"
  • Edward L. Glaeser和Naomi Hausman谈“创新与失业之间的空间错配”
  • Albert Bravo-Biosca on "Experimental Innovation Policy"
  • Albert Bravo-Biosca关于“实验创新政策”
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