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Here's a case from the technology transfer file:
At one of its U.S. facilities, Southfield-based Nippondenso Manufacturing U.S.A. developed an advanced air conditioning compressor and went after a long-term contract to supply it to Ford. Its executives agreed to sign a contract -- but only if Nippondenso would also share its compressor technology. A deal was struck: Ford would give Nippondenso some compressor business, but would also develop its own, based on the supplier's designs.
Eventually, Ford modified the compressor design and, at the end of the contract, warmly shook Nippondenso's hand and became the main supplier of its own air conditioning parts. In one fell swoop, as the result of the agreement, the supplier watched $120 million evaporate.
But Nippondenso has no regrets, says Executive Vice President William Harahan III. Ford remains the supplier's biggest customer, he explains. And with an annual R&D budget of $700 to $800 million, Nippondenso can develop new technology and new products to replace those shared, leveraging more long-term business.
Besides, Harahan candidly points out, "Ford controls its own purchasing. If we take an all or nothing position, it could very well be nothing. There are other (suppliers) out there."
Technology transfers, licensing agreements, partnerships -- these mechanisms for sharing information, products and markets have been around for a long time. But their usage has grown dramatically as industry has become international …