Original Date: 02/03/1997
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Cooperative Research Program Overview
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Cooperative Research Program (CRP) provides the means for industry, government, and academia to cooperate in shared research efforts. Services provided by CRP include coordinating and facilitating group activities; providing administrative support; developing and monitoring third party contracts; maintaining financial records; and guiding successful completion of projects.
In today’s economic climate, worldwide industrial competition rises at a rapid pace. The mobility industry must continuously improve quality, decrease cost, and be innovative. Companies can no longer afford or guarantee a successful outcome from independent research. Cooperative research allows companies to join forces; share costs and expertise; and avoid duplication. In 1984, the National Cooperative Research Act greatly relaxed anti-trust restraints, allowing companies within an industry to conduct cooperative research without the threat of anti-trust actions. SAE’s basic charter fosters cooperative efforts to serve industry.
As an independent, unbiased, non-profit organization, SAE is recognized by its peers for having excellent credibility. SAE offers a proven framework for administering cooperative research and provides experience in the management and facilitation of projects. Services include bringing together prospective research partners to plan projects; furnishing facilities and staff for meetings; providing project management and coordination; working with government agencies for possibly acquiring funding; adhering to contractual requirements; ensuring conformance to the National Cooperative Research Act; providing a legal forum for solving legal issues; and setting up an accounting system specific for each cooperative project. SAE can also locate subcontractors if needed; administer budgets and contracts; set up and maintain the escrow accounts for the cooperative research participants; and provide publications capability for releasing the research results.
SAE determines the participation criteria based on technical background, financial contributions, and resources needed for each project. Entrance for interested parties is through SAE’s CRP Staff. The Research Executive Committee then reviews and approves all projects. Structured for autonomous operation, CRP administers the project while the research participants direct it. Funding comes from participants’ financial and resource contributions (e.g., personnel, equipment, facilities, data) and from grants or contracts by federal, state, and local government agencies. Costs may be defrayed by the sale of published results or a final report. In all cases, SAE seeks to recover direct costs for providing administrative services with the goal of breaking even or better.
CRP, started in 1990, has administered 45 Cooperative Research Projects with 19 completed and the rest being in an active or developmental status. The automotive and truck industry accounts for 75% of the projects. From initiation to completion, projects average about 1.5 years. Size and cost depend on the urgency, complexity, and composition of the project, ranging from the smallest at $5 thousand to the largest at $2 million. Completed projects include HFC-134a Refrigerant for Air Conditioning; High-speed Multiplexing Data Links; Natural Gas Vehicles Research; and Air Bag End Use and Management. Active projects include the Civilian American & European Surface Anthropometry Resource (CAESAR) project; Distributive Lighting; Misfueling Lockout; Sound Level Urban Driving Cycle; Airbag Skin Burn Modeling; and Electrical Vehicle Battery Recharging. Projects under development or still looking for participants include CAESAR; Marine Fuel Hose Study; Aerospace Connection Locking Device; Diesel Engine Combustion Research; Crash Avoidance Sensors; Adaptive Devices; and Oxygenated Fuels Research.
SAE’s CRP continues to grow and prove its success. Members and industry participants accomplish leading-edge research at a fraction of the cost for independent research. Participants benefit from the interaction with peers; the ability to influence and develop the research’s scope; the confidentiality that SAE brings as a third party; and the efficiency of SAE’s management and administrative framework.
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