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Sandia pumps $140B into the economy through technology development

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — To say that the technology and products Sandia National Laboratories researchers have helped imagine, innovate and industrialize have had a massive impact on the country would be an understatement.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — To say that the technology and products Sandia National Laboratories researchers have helped imagine, innovate and industrialize have had a massive impact on the country would be an understatement.

Two studies commissioned by Sandia and the National Nuclear Security Administration show Sandia’s work has had an overall economic impact of $140 billion since the year 2000. That’s a significant figure, especially considering it spans just 20 years, less than a third of Sandia’s 75-year existence.

“I am very proud of how Sandia excels in fulfilling its technology transfer mission to deliver economic impact to the U.S.,” said Senior Manager of Business Development Mary Monson. “Sandia’s contribution of $140 billion over 20 years makes it a leader among Department of Energy laboratories.”

Impact in dollars and cents

The two studies, conducted by TechLink, a federally funded technology transfer center at Montana State University, show: $140 billion in overall economic impact, $72.2 billion in new product sales, $22.52 billion in new product sales to the government, $14.1 billion in new tax revenue and 607,246 jobs created.

The studies examined Sandia’s Cooperative Research and Development Agreements and patent license agreements between 2000 and 2023, assessing how they translated into actual products, sales, tax revenue and jobs. This benefits the national economy, improves the nuclear weapons stockpile for the United States and international allies and supports NNSA missions.

“The Nuclear Security Enterprise is a treasure trove of commercializable technologies, and Sandia National Laboratories stands apart in its efforts to bring products to market,” said acting Director of NNSA’s Office of Technology and Partnerships, Jahleel Hudson.

Cooperative Research and Development Agreements and Patent License Agreements

Cooperative Research and Development Agreements and Patent License Agreements are two ways Sandia helps move its technology to industry.

CRADAs are unique contractual vehicles that enable federal labs and outside parties to jointly develop new technologies, leveraging each other’s expertise and resources.

PLAs are legally binding contracts that give licensees, usually for-profit corporations, the right to make, use and sell federal government-owned inventions.

Sandia has excelled in these agreements. According to the FY22 DOE Office of Technology Transitions annual data call, Sandia had:

  • The highest number of patent disclosures and filings and copyright assertions
  • The second highest number of active patent licenses
  • The third highest number of CRADA projects in the DOE enterprise

DOE Boost

In recent years, Sandia has accelerated its efforts to move innovation to industry through the creation of new programs. One such program is the DOE Boost Platform, led by Sandia and external partner FedTech, which partners with 13 other DOE labs. The goal is to bring national labs, startups, academia and entrepreneurs together to find solutions to community-based energy challenges, especially in rural areas.

Sandia is already negotiating three licenses under this program, including one with a team of New Mexicans and Alaskans.

“They are looking to use Sandia’s algae technology in Santa Fe’s municipal water system,” Monson said. “It highlights the fact that communities want to work with people and entrepreneurs from their community to focus on the challenges they’re facing. It’s kind of like the whole impetus behind boost.”

 C4 Partnering Model

Another successful program is the C-4 Partnering Model. The four C’s stand for Co-locate, Collaborate, Community and Communicate. It works with seven lab partners and regional partners to develop a regional commercialization ecosystem for manufacturing clean energy technologies focused on collaboration and rapid technology development.

S2EDGE

A third program is the Semiconductor Sector S2-EDGE program. EDGE stands for Expedite and Develop Game-Changing Exemplar. In collaboration with four other labs, it aims to harness industry use-inspired input to move innovations in semiconductor technologies and next-generation microelectronics from the lab to the market.

Monson says these programs are just part of the reason Sandia’s tech transfer numbers are so positive.

“We are committed to bringing new programs to our ecosystem that researchers can take advantage of to move labs-developed technologies to the market,” she said.

Success Stories – Goodyear

This massive economic impact has been fueled by some long-lasting partnerships including that with Goodyear. In the early 90s, the tire company turned to Sandia for its expertise in advanced computational mechanics, simulation and structural dynamics to improve tire performance, reduce product development times, and improve manufacturing methods.

Thirty years later, that partnership continues. One of its latest projects is a virtual way to develop a quieter tire without the need for physical testing. Over the years, the partnership has also resulted in the development of the Assurance TripleTred, a visually distinctive all-weather tire, and the development of Virtual Flat Track, which uses computer simulations to test a virtual tire on a virtual test track simulating actual road conditions.

All of this technology has roots in Sandia’s nuclear deterrence mission.

PNM

Sandia is also involved in ongoing work with the Public Service Company of New Mexico. In 2020, the two formalized a CRADA to help PNM develop a more resilient, clean electric grid and meet a 2040 carbon emissions-free target.

The partners are developing new analytical approaches, capabilities and technologies to help PNM use distributed and centralized sources of clean energy. Sandia and PNM will explore different types of storage, such as batteries, thermal storage and hydrogen that can provide grid resilience. Together, the partners can work to test solutions in real-world scenarios.

hCMOS

Last year, Sandia celebrated its partnership with an Albuquerque-based startup, Advanced hCMOS systems, to commercialize the world’s fastest burst-mode X-ray camera created at Sandia. The company was co-founded by former Sandia employees Liam Claus and Marcos Sanchez, who took advantage of the Entrepreneurial Separation for Technology Transfer program to start their own business.

While the technology is used as part of Sandia’s nuclear power and fusion work, there are many other applications, including astrophysics research, laser design and materials science. Researchers are looking to use it for, among other things, developing stronger glass screens for cell phones. They need to understand how glass fractures. In order to do that, they must see it as it happens at extremely high speeds.

The company is already serving government customers and is working on ramping up production through a DOE Phase I Small Business Innovation Research Grant and a TRGR Technology Readiness Initiative project.

75 years of innovation

With 75 years of innovation behind it, Sandia is looking to make an even bigger impact in the years ahead.

Commercialization of lab developed technologies has long been part of Sandia’s mission, but it is also a reminder that this national lab is made up of some of the brightest minds in the country. Through these partnerships and programs, this work can make its way into the real world and affect everyday lives. Something Sandia and NNSA are proud of.

“Over the last 20 years, Sandia’s economic impact has generated billions of dollars, created half a million high-paying jobs and positioned the United States as a leader in technological innovation,” Hudson said. “NNSA’s Technology and Partnerships Office values Sandia’s extraordinary achievements and is delighted to have commissioned the study to recognize this success.”

For more information on Sandia technology and its impacts, visit 70 ways Sandia has changed the nation.


Sandia National Laboratories is a multimission laboratory operated by National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International Inc., for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. Sandia Labs has major research and development responsibilities in nuclear deterrence, global security, defense, energy technologies and economic competitiveness, with main facilities in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Livermore, California.

Sandia news media contact: Kim Vallez Quintana, [email protected], 505-537-3294