An initiative by Japanese firms and government agencies outpaces U.S. efforts, despite America's head start in the field
WASHINGTON -- Try to imagine Motorola, Corning Glass Works, Bethlehem Steel, Merck, and Revlon sitting down at the table with Citibank, Chase Manhattan, Bank of Boston, and a few insurance companies and agreeing to invest more than $90 million in a new research project. Then throw in the federal government, with a matching contribution of $90 million.

Such a scenario, implausible for the United States, is just what Japan is doing to boost the nascent but burgeoning field of marine biotechnology. With an eye toward what it calls "the greatest remaining technological and industrial frontier," the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) has teamed up with 24 Japanese companies and banks on a par with the U.S. companies mentioned above, as well as scientists, to launch the Marine Biotechnology Institute to...

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