EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The end of the Cold War has created a challenging environment for the Sandia National Laboratories. Despite its more constrained budget environment, Sandia must be able to fulfill its missions amidst changing security needs in a period marked by rapid technological innovation. For example, to maintain the safety and reliability of U.S. nuclear weapons in the current test free environment requires unprecedented reliance on computer simulation, specifically through the Stockpile Stewardship Program. To meet these new challenges, the Sandia Laboratories have recognized that partnerships with the private sector are one way to ensure the laboratories' continued technological leadership.

One mechanism adopted by Sandia to promote partnerships is the development of a science and technology (S&T) park, located just outside the laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This facility is designed to encourage close cooperation with the private sector on common technological challenges. It will enable the laboratories to share costs and acquire expertise, while helping to ensure that the laboratories and their scientists stay abreast of the most recent technological innovations. As an additional benefit, a successful S&T park could also contribute to a regional environment conducive to science-based economic growth.

To explore the opportunities and challenges of an S&T park, the Sandia National Laboratories asked the National Research Council (NRC) to examine the park concept. To do so, the Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy (STEP) brought together executive branch officials, congressional staff, representatives from the private sector, and regional economists to review the



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--> EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The end of the Cold War has created a challenging environment for the Sandia National Laboratories. Despite its more constrained budget environment, Sandia must be able to fulfill its missions amidst changing security needs in a period marked by rapid technological innovation. For example, to maintain the safety and reliability of U.S. nuclear weapons in the current test free environment requires unprecedented reliance on computer simulation, specifically through the Stockpile Stewardship Program. To meet these new challenges, the Sandia Laboratories have recognized that partnerships with the private sector are one way to ensure the laboratories' continued technological leadership. One mechanism adopted by Sandia to promote partnerships is the development of a science and technology (S&T) park, located just outside the laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This facility is designed to encourage close cooperation with the private sector on common technological challenges. It will enable the laboratories to share costs and acquire expertise, while helping to ensure that the laboratories and their scientists stay abreast of the most recent technological innovations. As an additional benefit, a successful S&T park could also contribute to a regional environment conducive to science-based economic growth. To explore the opportunities and challenges of an S&T park, the Sandia National Laboratories asked the National Research Council (NRC) to examine the park concept. To do so, the Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy (STEP) brought together executive branch officials, congressional staff, representatives from the private sector, and regional economists to review the

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--> Sandia S&T park initiative.1 The objective was to critically appraise the park concept, its rationale and current plans, as well as identify potential operational and policy issues. Special attention was devoted to the following four topics: Conditions of Success: For comparative purposes two successful regional initiatives, the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina and the growth of Austin, Texas as a high-technology center, were considered. While recognizing the significant differences in institutional structure and operation between the park and these centers, speakers emphasized the importance of a clear concept, effective leadership, broad support in the community, and sustained financial commitment. They stated that these factors are likely to be more important than a fixed blueprint for developing a successful park. Several participants noted that a large research university has also typically played a role in the success of other regional development initiatives. An important cautionary note was sounded concerning the difficulty in measuring success and the corresponding difficulty in identifying a failing initiative. The Importance of Partnerships: Sandia's representatives noted that Sandia has attempted to improve its partnerships throughout the 1990s. As commercial markets continue their rapid evolution, working with the private sector is an increasingly important means for the laboratories to accomplish their missions. It also provides a means of addressing new challenges. Above all, attracting and keeping the best scientists—and maintaining their skills—requires that they be permitted to collaborate with colleagues in the private sector. Institutional Design: Energy Department Under Secretary Ernest Moniz emphasized the importance of public-private partnerships in developing new technologies for the national laboratories. At the same time, he noted that such partnerships must benefit both government and industry and that the use of the laboratories' unique resources must create public goods. In this context, foreign participation in cooperative activity can be seen as appropriate when it provides an aggregate benefit to U.S. taxpayers. In considering the Sandia S&T park specifically, a regional economist stressed the importance of cultivating ''synergies.'' That is, even with first rate facilities and industrial partners, the park needs to foster an atmosphere in which knowledge flows quickly, failure is not a stigma, and 1   The workshop on the Sandia S&T Park Initiative was carried out as part of the STEP Board's review of Government-Industry Partnerships for the Development of New Technologies, a multi-year assessment of U.S. and foreign partnerships. This report examines a key element of the U.S. innovation system, that is industry laboratory cooperation. The report does not contain formal recommendations by the Academies.

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--> capital is available to quickly fund entrepreneurial opportunities. Sandia representatives pointed out that with the large number of Ph.D.s per capita in New Mexico, the potential for synergy with the University of New Mexico, and the city of Albuquerque's commitment to the park, significant regional support is already in place for the Sandia initiative. Operational Challenges: Discussion of this topic focused on the challenges government-industry partnerships must address, such as justifying the cost of partnerships, determining intellectual property rights, and identifying the appropriate role for public investment. Given the technology assets that Sandia brings to the park, the Sandia leadership was urged to focus its priorities on technologies and companies that bring assets complementary to those of Sandia laboratories, and therefore able to generate the maximum leverage from the park.

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--> I PREFACE

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