Are Consortia Fair Competition?

Why the semiconductor industry needs to take a hard look at the National Football League’s strategy.

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This year’s Super Bowl was rather disappointing, but the NFL has been remarkably successful in creating an environment where all the teams have a path to success. This provides an interesting counter point to the discussion last time on the role of consortia such as IMEC. My point last time was that big problems require big solutions and cooperation between companies and even governments are essential. But is it fair competition? And what exactly is “fair” ?
Super Bowl XLVIII - Seattle Seahawks v Denver Broncos
Winning fair is fun

The NFL has done a terrific job of ensuring equal opportunity (a.k.a.  fair ) competition between teams. Equal sharing of TV revenues, independent of performance, combined with a salary cap ensures that one or two rich  teams do not dominate.  In addition, there is a draft that allows the poorest performers the best pick of the new player. If that is not affirmative action to help weak teams succeed, I am not sure what is.

Contrast this with the Premier League in England. There is no salary cap and limited revenue sharing, and the result is only four teams have a realistic chance of winning the league.  This certainly makes for much less interesting competition, as most teams have no chance of winning.

My take is that there some wonderful lessons here. It’s pretty clear that equal opportunity or a truly level playing field does require equal access to resources and affirmative action to help the weakest succeed.  It’s also clear that such actions are compatible with capitalist principles. After all, the NFL does it.

Back to semiconductors. The consortia certainly provide equal opportunity access to the basic pre-competitive research, provided you can afford to join.

So are there lessons here for equal opportunity in our schools?



  • kderbyshire

    Um, the NFL actually has an exemption to antitrust laws, as do the other US professional leagues. They aren’t really great examples of collaboration within capitalist principles.

  • Vaidya Bharadwaj

    Current value chain works in silos and hence need a comprehensive approach…which is a lot easier in NFL since the entire value chain is controlled by NFL(they control the media through fan base…)..in our case we need to have an over reach control body that can oversee the entire chain from design through equipment vendors..with the goal of keep our “fans” the end user happy. We do have a common platform approach tried and tested…which works sometimes..but is waning. imec is and excellent example but the issue is today’s problems are so interconnected, we need participation in the entire value chain to solve problems..with the rise in foundry…that model is broken…