Sandia Labs News Releases

Researchers offer consulting to companies that license Sandia inventions

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In a boost to technology transfer, Sandia National Laboratories has launched a program that lets researchers consult for companies that license their Sandia work.

“There is a need for this. We hear often in the business community that it would help a lot if our people could consult on their inventions,” said Pete Atherton, senior manager for Industry Partnerships at Sandia. “Licensees, especially small businesses, really need the technical guidance to take the next steps.”

Pete Atherton, senior manager of Industry Partnerships at Sandia National Laboratories, says a new program that allows researchers to consult on their own time for companies that license their Sandia inventions should increase technology transfer. (Photo by Randy Montoya) Click on the thumbnail for a high-resolution image.

A researcher who wants to consult for a company that licenses his or her technology must first get a green light from the labs. Work would be done on the researcher’s own time.

“This is another way to give scientists with an entrepreneurial spirit an avenue to explore business without leaving the labs and help their work make it to the commercial market,” Atherton said. “And it gives companies expertise to help commercialize a technology.”

He said the availability of consulting should lead to more licensing as businesses learn they can get follow-up technical help from Sandia. “Businesses may not know how much consulting they will need until they get started,” Atherton said. “This is a flexible approach that opens the door.”

The program is one of a number of ways Sandia supports technology transfer and the business community.

  • The New Mexico Small Business Assistance (NMSBA) program lets for-profit companies team with Sandia researchers free of charge to solve technical challenges. In 2014, Sandia provided $2.31 million in assistance to 197 New Mexico small businesses in 27 counties.
  • Scientists can leave Sandia to launch technology companies or expand existing ones through the Entrepreneurial Separation to Transfer Technology (ESTT) program. It guarantees reinstatement if the researcher chooses to return to Sandia within three years.
  • The Sandia Science and Technology Park is a 340-acre technology community adjacent to Sandia and Kirtland Air Force Base where startups and mature companies can collaborate with the Labs on a variety of technologies, products and services. The park’s Center for Collaboration and Commercialization, or C3, will offer programs and services to strengthen partnerships, technology transfer and ties to the community.

And companies can contract to work with Sandia through Collaborative Research and Development Agreements (CRADA) and Strategic Partnership Projects, Non-Federal Entity (SPP/NFE) agreements. “These are good if the work supports a Sandia mission but more difficult for a small or startup company that is trying to understand and possibly commercialize a technology on a lean budget and time frame,” Atherton said.

Andy McIlroy, Sandia’s deputy chief technology officer and director of the Research Strategy and Partnerships Center, said the consulting option will enhance tech transfer. “Through an innovative portfolio of mutually reinforcing initiatives, Sandia continues to be a leader in effectively transferring technology to the private sector for the widest possible benefit to the taxpayer,” he said.

Sandia National Laboratories is a multi-program laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corp., for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies and economic competitiveness.

Sandia news media contact: Nancy Salem,, (505) 844-2739