NNSA: Sandia National Laboratories Creates Billions Of Dollars Of Impact Through Technology Transfer


Today the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) announced the results of an independent Economic Impact Study on Sandia National Laboratories’ technology transfer activities. Sandia’s achievements resulted in over $95 billion of economic impact from 2000 to 2020, and supported about 21,000 jobs per year.

Technology transfer brings knowledge, intellectual property, and capabilities developed within NNSA to other agencies, private industry academia, and state and local governments. The Nuclear Security Enterprise accounts for one of the largest accumulations of patents issued to the federal government in our Nation. Within NNSA’s Office of Defense Programs, the Office of Strategic Partnership Programs oversees the technology transfer work at NNSA’s laboratories, plants, and sites. NNSA’s technology transfer activities cover a wide spectrum of technology areas—from electronics, advanced materials, sensors, semiconductors, and various computer-related technologies like cybersecurity and artificial intelligence, to environmental technology, biotechnology, diverse energy-related technologies, and nuclear weapons development.

“One of NNSA’s key missions as established in the NNSA Act is to support U.S. leadership in science and technology,” explained Dr. Kevin Greenaugh, Assistant Deputy Administrator for Strategic Partnership Programs. “The NNSA labs, plants, and sites participate in outstanding research and development projects and we support the transfer of these federally funded technologies into NNSA’s primary mission areas and into the marketplace for the benefit of the U.S. economy.”

This Economic Impact Study was conducted by Techlink and Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder. Techlink is a U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Partnership Intermediary located at Montana State University-Bozeman that conducts approximately 80% of all patent license agreements for DoD, and has completed over 15 national economic impact studies. The two types of technology transfer agreements assessed were Patent License Agreements (PLAs) and Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs). PLAs are legally binding contracts that give licensees the right to make, use, and sell federal government-owned inventions. CRADAs are unique contractual vehicles that enable federal labs and external parties to jointly develop new technologies, leveraging each other’s expertise and resources.

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the extent to which Sandia’s PLAs and CRADAs have resulted in new products and services that support jobs, benefit the national economy, improve the nuclear weapons stockpile for the U.S. and international allies, and support the NNSA mission. More specifically, the study was intended to determine the extent to which PLAs and CRADAs established by Sandia in a ten-year period have contributed to new economic activity and job creation in the U.S., and resulted in the transition of new technologies that support the Nuclear Security Enterprise. Techlink used the IMPLAN economic impact assessment model for its analysis, which yielded estimates of economic output, value added, employment, labor income, and tax revenues.

Reviewing 101 PLAs and 341 CRADAs that were established between 2000 and 2010, TechLink was able to obtain a 97 percent company response rate. Techlink’s direct survey findings indicate that Sandia’s technology transfer activities during this time resulted in the following impacts through 2020:

  • $53.7 billion in total sales of new products and services;
  • $31 billion in commercial sales;
  • $21.9 billion in sales of new products to the government;
  • $548 million in follow-on research and development;
  • $32 million in sub-licensing and spinoff sales; and
  • $30 million in royalties

Using the direct survey findings as inputs for economic input-output modeling, TechLink analyzed the findings using IMPLAN. Based on IMPLAN modeling, the model yielded the following cumulative estimates over the past 21 years:

  • $95.9 billion in total economic impact
    • $29.3 billion in induced impact
    • $33.3 billion in indirect impact
    • $33.3 billing in direct impact
  • 434,464 jobs supported (20,689 jobs per year with an average annual salary of $69,000);
  • $30 billion in total labor income;
  • $47.2 billion in value added; and
  • $9.9 billion in new tax revenues (federal, state, and local)

In addition to the study, Sandia chose to highlight some of its most successful partnerships and products through a series of success stories, which describe the origin, development, and use of various laboratory innovations. NNSA is proud to contribute to the Nation’s economic success through our National Security Laboratories, and will continue to leverage the research and development of our highly skilled workforce to benefit American consumers and industry partners.

Learn more about NNSA technology transfer and Sandia’s achievements here.