A series of collaborative R&D ventures have emerged in Taiwan, within a quite distinctive institutional framework. Unlike the case of many of the collaborative arrangements between established firms in the US, Europe or Japan, where mutual risk reduction is frequently the driving influence, in the case of Taiwan it is technological learning, upgrading and catch-up industry creation that is the object of the collaborative exercises. The Taiwan R&D alliances were formed hesitantly in the 1980s, but have flourished in the 1990s as institutional forms have been found which encourage firms to cooperate in raising their technological levels. Several alliances could be counted in Taiwan in the late 1990s, bringing together firms, and public sector research institutes, with the added organizational input of trade associations, and catalytic financial assistance from government. The article discusses the evolving organizational architecture of these R&D alliances, utilizing several case studies, and seeks to draw comparisons between these institutional innovations in Taiwan and established collaborative arrangements in the USA, Japan and Europe.