Sandia LabNews

Sandia Science and Technology Park soon a reality

A fast-track project that began in May to build the first facility in the new Sandia Science and Technology Park should be finished by October and operating soon thereafter. The formal groundbreaking ceremony for the new EMCOREwest building took place May 28, at the Albuquerque site just northeast of Kirtland Air Force Base’s Eubank gate.

Sandia, EMCORE, and government officials galore were on hand at the groundbreaking and at the associated May 28-29 New Mexico Technology Corridor Conference at the Albuquerque Convention Center to celebrate EMCORE’s venture and to promote the park to prospective tenants.

EMCORE is a leading provider of integrated compound semiconductor solutions. Its new Albuquerque facility will design, develop, and build advanced solar cells for the satellite industry. Company officials believe it will grow to about 70,000 square feet by 2002 and employ more than 250 people with an annual payroll of about $12 million. (For more details about the EMCORE facility, see the April 24 Lab News article and artist’s drawing in the May 22 issue.)

The idea behind the Science and Technology Park is to attract new high-tech businesses to build there to make it easier for them to partner with R&D institutions in New Mexico’s “Technology Corridor,” stretching from Los Alamos to Las Cruces. Sandia and the new Science and Technology Park are centrally located within the corridor.

Jackie Kerby Moore (4000), who had primary responsibility for planning the conference and the park – and has continuing liaison responsibilities for prospective park tenants – was delighted with the May 28-29 events. “We had about 250 participants and about 80 out-of-staters at the conference, several from high-technology companies that we hope to attract to the Science and Technology Park.” She notes that several “recognizable, big-name technology companies” are already seriously considering building facilities in the park.

Tremendous political support

Conference chairman Dan Hartley, Sandia’s VP for Laboratory Development Div. 4000, is particularly encouraged by the support for the park from community and political leaders. Among other political leaders speaking at the conference and groundbreaking were Sen. Pete Domenici, New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, Speaker of the New Mexico House Raymond Sanchez, and Albuquerque Mayor Jim Baca. Sen. Jeff Bingaman had a prior commitment, but addressed the conference via a videotaped presentation.

Dan pointed out some of the many benefits of labs/industry partnerships. “They bring all parties new scientific and technical insights to solve real problems that might not be easily solved if we were working alone,” he said. “By sharing both the cost and the gain, we all become more efficient and more effective. The Sandia Science and Technology Park is one of our main strategies for making all of this come alive.”

Domenici, a long-time supporter of increased cooperation and partnering among US industry, the national laboratories, and universities, supports the new park enthusiastically. US companies will be “startled at what we have to offer if they come out here and form partnerships with us,” he said.

Domenici congratulated both Sandia and Los Alamos national labs for their efforts to “spin off” their technologies to industry and for allowing technical employees entrepreneurial leaves of absence to work directly with industry. These practices and the new park will “make sure America profits from the nation’s investments in technologies developed at Sandia and Los Alamos.”

He noted that $3.3 billion is already spent annually on research and development in New Mexico, about 8.1 percent of the state’s gross product. Domenici also talked about two new pieces of legislation he has introduced to encourage and make it easier for industry to work with the national labs and industry. One (Senate bill 1874, cosponsored by six other senators, including Bingaman) would streamline the process for establishing partnerships among these groups; the other (Senate bill 2072) would – among other features – enable the labs to create a new, reduced overhead rate specifically for industrial customers and require the secretary of energy to encourage new partnerships with universities and industry.

Sandia President Paul Robinson and former president Al Narath (now chairman of Sandia’s Board) also spoke at the conference and groundbreaking. Paul said, “This conference and the Sandia Science and Technology Park are great ideas – ideas whose time has come. We have opened up enormous portions of our laboratory for participation by industry. The engine of industry is technology, and that’s what we’re all about.”