"Although my company is still very small in revenue size, we are now the world's leader in the production and marketing of nanocrystalline materials for a wide range of important applications. That also means that the United States is now the world's leader in this important field. It was not always that way, and it would not be that way today, were it not for the support of the ATP program." Excerpt from the testimony of Robert W. Cross, Nanophase Technologies Corporation to the United States Senate, August 1, 1995.
"We're here now only because of the ATP," says Manny Sieradzki, president of Diamond Semiconductor Group Inc. (DSG), a company in Gloucester, Mass., that makes ion-implantation tools and other equipment for semiconductor manufacturers. "Without the original ATP funding into the Diamond Semiconductor Group, there would not have been enough of an `existence proof' for Varian to go ahead with the technology, particularly since it was a quite a risk," says Bruce Thayer of Varian Associates, which bought a worldwide license for a DSG ion implanter developed using lessons learned under the ATP supported project. The technology will help improve process control in semiconductor fabrication. A footnote from Sieradzki: "Future sales on the products in development directly resulting from the NIST ATP award could top $600 million over the next ten years. More than half those sales will go to Japan, Korea, and other Pacific Rim countries."
"Our entry into the telecommunications market has largely been as a result of the ATP," says Neven Karlovac, CEO of Accuwave, a 10-person start-up company in Santa Monica, Calif., that makes components for fiber-optic telecommunications systems. "The ATP award enabled us to take our technology and develop a prototype and make it real." Accuwave is already commercializing spinoff-products from the projects that are designed to greatly expand the capacity of long distance communications without requiring new fiber to be laid.
At several automobile assembly plants, Chrysler and General Motors workers have implemented new technologies to help them control variations in the fit of automobile body parts to 2 millimeters -- about the thickness if a nickel -- or less. The "2mm Program" partnership of the Auto Body Consortium , a group of eight small automobile technology suppliers, together with Chrysler, GM, and two universities, produced new manufacturing technologies, practices, and training techniques. The ABC technologies are not only effective, they are "agile" -- readily adaptable to new models. The plants that have implemented the 2mm Program have been rewarded with significant improvements in customer satisfaction scores. More importantly, they have been able to meet the challenge of foreign competitors, especially in Japan, that also have achieved variation control at 2mm or better. International competitiveness is a life-or-death issue in the auto industry, which affects one in every seven jobs in the United States.
Building the Future on Common Ground