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Technology Transfer

Fact Sheet

Today industry annually produces several billion dollars worth of products made possible by technology developed at Sandia National Laboratories. Examples range from laminar flow clean-room technology used by microcircuit manufacturers and hospitals to diamond compact drill bits and automotive air bag sensors.

These products and others demonstrate that Sandia has been transferring technology to industry on an informal basis for three decades, but a federal law enacted in late 1989 gave impetus to this process. The National Competitiveness Technology Transfer Act of 1989 gave technology transfer full status as a U.S. Department of Energy mission. It also established the legal framework for the DOE contractor-operated laboratories to negotiate directly with industry to sign cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAs) -- formal technology commercialization agreements that permit the laboratories to collaborate with industry on mutually beneficial research. Simpler than a conventional government contract, a CRADA provides protection for a company's confidential information and permits a wide latitude in the assignment of intellectual property.

By early 1996, Sandia had executed more than 250 CRADAs representing a total research investment of more than a half billion dollars. Sandia CRADA partners range from some of the nation's largest companies to small businesses with only a few employees. These CRADA projects involve a broad scope of technologies, including advanced materials, computing and software, microelectronics, manufacturing, physical security, pollution minimization, and environmental rediation.

A significant number of these CRADAs are alliances focusing on helping entire industries become more competitive in the global marketplace. Examples include work with SEMATECH on semiconductor equipment and contamination-free manufacturing, the Speciality Metals Processing Consortium to develop improved metals production processes, and CRADAs with the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences and member companies.

But CRADAs are not the only vehicles for Sandia to carry out its technology transfer mission. The Labs has increased its activities in the area of licensing Sandia-developed technologies and products. Through its Small-Business Technology Transfer Program, Sandia has provided technical assistance to dozens of small businesses. Sandia also has certain facilities that are available to industry, university, and other government agencies for cooperative research and development activities.

Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin Company, for the United States Department of Energy.
Media Contact
Chris Miller

Last modified: August 6, 1997

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