Sandia Labs News Releases

New Mexico Small Business Assistance Program helps 320 small businesses in 2009

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The New Mexico Small Business Assistance Program (NMSBA) helped 320 companies in 25 counties in 2009 to solve technical challenges, including creating high-speed video of an exploding frozen pipe and explaining how silver-coated bandages speed healing.

A partnership of Sandia National Laboratories, Los Alamos National Laboratory and the state of New Mexico, the program connects scientists and engineers with New Mexico businesses in exchange for a state gross receipts tax credit. In 2009, the tax credit was nearly $4.3 million — about $2.4 million for Sandia and $1.9 million for Los Alamos.

Nine companies that participated in the program in 2009 will be honored for their outstanding achievements at the NMSBA’s Innovation Celebration on April 8.

“We are proud of our partnership with Los Alamos National Laboratory and the State of New Mexico in support of small businesses throughout New Mexico,” said Steve Rottler, vice president and chief technology officer at Sandia National Laboratories. “Most small companies do not have access to the world-class technology and expertise available at the Labs, and the NMSBA Program provides them that access.”

ICE-LOC®, a small business based in Bosque Farms, is one of the nine awardees being honored. The company invented an environmentally-safe pipe protector using a dense sponge-like tube that can be inserted into pipes to prevent them from rupturing in cold weather.

But without the ability to demonstrate the product, the company had trouble attracting customers.

So ICE-LOC® turned to Sandia National Laboratories and its testing expertise. Sandia engineer Kevin Fleming, along with Chris Colburn and Rosa Montoya, tested ICE-LOC®’s product in a controlled environment at minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Using high-speed cameras, they videotaped a side-by-side comparison of two pipes. The pipe without ICE-LOC® exploded, while a pipe fitted with the product remained intact.

“The visual presentation produced by Sandia has enabled us to show our product’s performance to the market and find a distributor,” ICE-LOC® president Louis Herrera said.

Since the program began at Sandia in 2000, it has helped 1,597 small businesses and created or retained 1,020 jobs paying an average annual salary of $39,063 through 2008. The businesses’ revenue increased by nearly $39.7 million and their operating costs fell by more than $28 million during the same nine-year period. LANL joined the program in 2007.

Companies participating in the program must be for-profit small businesses located in New Mexico. The assistance provided cannot be available in the private sector at a reasonable cost. Individual companies in urban Bernalillo County are eligible for up to $10,000 in assistance measured in lab staff hours. Companies located in rural counties are eligible for up to $20,000.

The NMSBA Program also contracts with the New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NM MEP), the University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University and New Mexico Tech to provide assistance to companies.

Media representatives are invited to meet small business owners, scientists and Sandia and LANL officials at the NMSBA Program’s Innovation Celebration from 5:30-8:30 p.m., April 8, at The Bishop’s Lodge in Tesuque.

Here is a selection of additional companies that will be recognized:

  • Allied Medical in Albuquerque wanted to understand their device’s ability to decrease healing time using silver nanotechnology. Sandia quantified the interaction between the silver and an applied DC micro current in Allied’s medical device. With the assistance NMSBA provided, Allied Medical can now embark on the rigorous scientific path toward Food and Drug Administration approval and marketing the technology to the public.
  • Firefly Lighting in Tesuque, which makes decorative lighting fixtures based on Southwestern artistic traditions, achieved a 10 percent increase in sales and a 30 percent improvement in on-time delivery of orders after NM MEP helped the company streamline its manufacturing process and reorganize their shop floor. This has put Firefly Lighting in a good position to meet the increased demand resulting from their e-commerce website.
  • The Ramah-Espanola Basin Leveraged Project assisted water treatment companies by educating their target market — private well owners — about the quality of their drinking water, and by providing the companies with needed data about groundwater quality and treatment options. The information provided is being used by the sponsoring companies in both locations to identify potential customers and offer an appropriate, inexpensive point-of-use treatment system, and develop and evaluate innovative treatment technologies.
  • SimTable in Santa Fe built a device, SimTable™, which can predict and display fire behavior using an interactive, three-dimensional model on a sand table. They enlisted LANL to make the simulation more interactive. Now the SimTable™ “sees” movement and objects through a camera and can project those on to the table. SimTable anticipates hiring two engineers by the end of the year to work on the design and manufacturing.
  • ThermaSun in Taos developed and designed a solar thermal system called the ThermaSaver. LANL evaluated a selection of plastic components using accelerated aging to test for reliability and durability at the upper limit of their operating temperature. Owner Larry Mapes said just like the photovoltaic inverter of the 1980s, his company’s work “will simplify installations, meet utility durability standards and interface with a home’s existing heating and cooling systems.”

More detailed information on all nine award winners is available upon request.

Sandia National Laboratories is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, 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: Heather Clark, (505) 844-3511