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May 24, 1999

[News Releases] [Sandia National Laboratories]

Sandia conference to explore potential of industry clusters in five Southwestern states

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Some 300 business leaders and public officials from New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Texas and Utah will explore the potential of technology-driven industry clusters during the Conference on the Southwest as a Region of Innovation: Steps Toward the Next Generation Economy, scheduled for June 17-18 at the Albuquerque Convention Center.

Sponsored by the Department of Energy's Sandia National Laboratories in cooperation with the Council on Competitiveness, the City of Albuquerque and the University of New Mexico, the conference will focus on six technology clusters -- optoelectronics, microelectronics, information technology, materials, biomedical and energy -- that have started to form and grow in the Southwest. The clusters are a mix of global companies, homegrown enterprises and spin-off companies supported by a responsive business climate and strong research and development facilities provided by government research labs and universities.

"The cluster concept represents a new way of thinking about the economy and signifies new roles for companies, academic institutions and local governments," says Bob Eagan, vice president of Sandia's Energy, Information and Infrastructure Surety Division who is co-chairing the conference with Dan Hartley, Sandia vice president of Laboratory Development. "This event will serve as a meeting of the minds and markets, linking leaders of emerging technology clusters within the Southwest with the public and private institutions from across the region that support them."

The conference will feature talks and panels by U.S. Senators, national business leaders, industry cluster leaders, and representatives of government laboratories and universities working in the cluster areas.

Thursday, June 17 events include panels on clusters and innovation, a morning talk via video on "Challenges of Innovation at the National Level" by Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) and a keynote luncheon speech on "A Southwest Success Story" by Alan Hald, co-founder of MicroAge, Inc. A highlight of the afternoon will be six breakout sessions where panels will discuss industry clusters in the Southwest.

Friday activities will include working groups in the six industry cluster areas brainstorming about how the clusters can solidify and become a force in the economies of the five states. The luncheon speaker will be Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), who will talk about "Clusters and the Innovation Society."

"The real core of the conference will take place during the breakout sessions where leaders will develop a vision for the future of clusters," Hartley says. "This is where stakeholders from each technology cluster across the Southwest will come together for the first time to explore shared challenges and solutions."

Besides linking industry leaders, public officials and academicians interested in developing specific technologies, the conference will also show how Southwest research and development labs and universities are supporting innovation across the region; catalyze collaborative efforts to accelerate growth of each cluster; and examine the pattern of innovation-based cluster development across the country. Part of the conference will be a Southwest Technology Cluster Expo to showcase business, laboratory and university innovations in the cluster areas.

The Conference on the Southwest as a Region of Innovation is being organized and sponsored by Sandia National Laboratories as part of its commitment to innovation across the U.S. and the Southwest. Efforts are in collaboration with the Council on Competitiveness, a non-partisan forum of 150 corporate chief executives, university presidents and labor leaders working together to set a national action agenda to strengthen US competitiveness. Also sponsoring the conference are the City of Albuquerque and the University of New Mexico.

Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin Company, for the United States Department of Energy under contract DE-AC04-94AL85000. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major research and development responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

Media contact:
Chris Burroughs, coburro@sandia.gov, (505) 844-0948

Technical contact:
Jackie Kerby Moore, jskerby@sandia.gov, (505) 844-6097

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