General Motors Corp.'s six science laboratories once were the envy of the industrial world. The brainpower harnessed on its Warren, MI, campus enabled GM to become a renowned product innovator. But in recent years, the reputation of its laboratories has sagged in concert with its market share, and GM has been criticized for not being able to spin research and development efforts into marketplace gold.

Alan I. Taub, GM's new Executive Director of Science for GM Research and Development, is hoping to change that. Coming from Ford Motor Co., where he was a manager of vehicle engineering and once ran the Materials Science Dept., he's talking about “reinventing global R & D for the 21st century.”

Promising that he has no intention of making cutbacks at the company's Warren campus, he says he also wants GM's R & D efforts to mirror the “strategic alliance” strategy it's using to gain global market share. Instead of buying up pieces of automakers, though, he's looking to set up strategic alliances with universities and to buy equity in outside research labs to bolster GM's research efforts.