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