The committee envisions ATRA as a hybrid of activities of the sort historically associated with DARPA (which through the ARPANET program managed a research portfolio, developed a vision, and convened industry and academia) and SEMATECH (which brought a struggling high-tech sector together, initially with some federal support to complement industry dollars, to fund joint research, development, and roadmapping activities). ATRA would be staffed by program managers who would include researchers from both academia and industry. Industry funding would represent a significant fraction of total ATRA funding, and industry as well as academic researchers would be deeply involved in research activities.
There are a number of options for where within the federal government such a program could fit, each with its own set of tradeoffs. The committee does not make a specific recommendation for locating such a program but notes that ATRA’s proposed mission would align with that of existing agencies within the Department of Commerce and that NSF has developed mechanisms for joint academic-industry engineering research, albeit more focused and on a smaller scale.
ATRA’s multifaceted mission would include the following Identifying, coordinating, and funding telecommunications research for the nation. ATRA’s focus would be on critical telecommunications research in which the nation is currently underinvesting.
Fostering the conception, development, and implementation of major architectural advances. ATRA would place a priority on research that aims to make possible major architectural advances that result in the development of dramatically new telecommunications capabilities (such as the Internet was when it was developed) rather than incremental improvements to existing capabilities.
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