|Source:||Idaho National Engineering Laboratory|
|Date:||10/1/95 Record No.: 10205|
|Contact:||General Phone: 208-526-0111|
INEL began as the National Reactor Testing Station in 1949, to provide an isolated location where various kinds of nuclear reactors and support facilities could be built and tested. By the early 50's, they could build a reactor and have it operating in 1 - 2 years. A total of 52 reactors have been built, 3 of which are still in operation. It was renamed as a national laboratory in 1974, to reflect its expanding application of applied science and engineering to non-nuclear research. The corporate culture emphasizes practical applied engineering approached with a strong "can-do" attitude.
INEL occupies nearly 900 sq. miles of eastern Idaho. The INEL Research Center is close to downtown Idaho Falls, and the main "Site" some 47 miles to the west. Total staffing is 7500 people, nearly 3000 of which have engineering or science degrees. INEL has evolved into a multi-purpose laboratory, and no longer is focused exclusively on reactors, spent fuel and waste processing, though these continue to be major driving forces.
Until October 1994, INEL was managed under parallel contracts with Westinghouse, EG&G, and Babcock & Wilcox. When the contracts came up for renewal, INEL was part of the growing trend to put these contracts out for bid (most notably Sandia, which went from 25 years under AT&T to Martin Marietta the previous year).
Lockheed assembled a team called LITCO (Lockheed Idaho Technology Co.) that included Lockheed, Duke Engineering & Services, Rust International, Parsons Environmental Services, Thermo Electron Corp., Babcock and Wilcox, and Coleman Energy and Environmental Services, each bringing specialized experience to the table. Their winning proposal offered a dramatic shift from the traditional cost+fee structure to an incentive fee based on performance measures. One of these measures creates the strongest financial incentive yet seen in a Federal lab for the commercialization and spin-off of technology. A lot of money is at stake--Lockheed will have a profit or loss depending on how well they perform.
In January of 1995, Lockheed's merger with Martin Marietta created Lockheed Martin, putting the management of Oak Ridge, Sandia, and INEL all in one firm. LITCo became Lockheed Martin Idaho Technologies (LMIT--which they do not want pronounced "limit"--I suggested "ell-mitt").
In mid July, Lockheed Marietta announced the formation of a new "Energy and Environment Sector," bringing into one group all of its DOE lab and facility management activities. This move is expected to have the three labs working much more closely together.
Technology Transfer at INEL
INEL/LMIT is pioneering some dramatically more aggressive approaches to technology transfer. Thermo Technology Ventures (TTV) is a new independent corporation, formed as part of the Lockheed proposal, by LMIT and Thermo Electron Corp., which is well known for its success in spinning off technology startup companies. (See October 9th issue of Forbes for story on Thermo Electron.)
TTV has two distinct roles: one is as a subcontractor to LMIT to do market assessments, entrepreneurial training, and initial business plans. In their second role, they will invest their own money, licensing INEL technologies, obtaining rights, and causing startups and ventures to happen. In a new twist, DOE has an opportunity for an equity interest in TTV. Also, LMIT can take an equity stake in a spinoff, along with license fees or royalties, some of which go to individual inventors.
Perhaps even more dramatic, INEL now has the Technology Exploitation Pilot Project (TEPP), designed to speed the flow of technology into the marketplace. Lockheed Martin was granted flexibility to operate beyond the constraints of current DOE policy and will seek flexibility to operate beyond the constraints of Federal policy and statutes to address contractor requirements for such things as speed, independence and continuity in partnering with American industry. INEL is the onle DOE laboratory implementing TEPP.
LMIT/INEL's organizational units include Environmental Operations, Nuclear Operations, Site Services, Business Administration, Human Resources, the President's Office, and the Applied Engineering Development Laboratory. AEDL, the main focus of this report, has approximately 1400 people, most of whom report administratively to the "Chief Engineer," and are matrixed into "directorates":
System Analysis & Simulation Products
End-Use Energy Efficiency Products
Environmental & Life Sciences Products
Alternative Energy & Natural Resource Products
Data Access Products
AEDL also has a chief engineer and a chief scientist. Note the heavy use of the term "Products." There is a strong emphasis at INEL on knowing who the "customer" is and defining the "product."