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Industry keeps research lab humming

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The slide of the US economy into recession has hit industry hard. Corporations have started to slash budgets -- but not, apparently, for research and development. Indeed, expenditures are growing.

According to E. Patrick McGuire, executive director for the business/government program of the Conference Board in New York, the 200 firms which account for 80 percent of industry's research and development (R&D) spending "have a longstanding philosophical and managerial commitment to research and development.'

Mr. McGuire notes that R&D spending is outpacing the rate of inflation, He adds: "We don't see any evidence at this point that peoples' recessionary fears are reflected in their R&D budgets."

The National Association of Manufacturers' director of science and technology , Brendan F. Somerville, reports: "Research and development performed by industry today is increasing, just when you would imagine that it would be decreasing in an inflationary period."

One prime example of rising corporate investment in R&D is provided by International Harvester (IH), the heavy equipment giant based here in Chicago.

In rolling countryside 20 miles southwest of its soaring Chicago corporate headquarters, IH is building an $80 million science and technology laboratory.

Before the year 2000 IH plans to add another six facilities to its new research complex. It is, according to the company, a "several hundred million dollar" commitment to the future.

President Carter's science adviser, Frank Press, describes substantial new investment in research and development as "the most effective way to fight inflation."

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