Newswise — ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Sandia National Laboratories will be doubling the amount of technical assistance it provides to small businesses, following legislation signed into New Mexico state law this year.

The new law raises the cap on the value of services Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories can offer a company through the New Mexico Small Business Assistance Program from $10,000 to $20,000 for businesses in urban counties and from $20,000 to $40,000 for businesses in rural counties. The changes take effect July 1.

The program, formed through legislation in 2000, provides New Mexico small businesses facing technical challenges access to the expertise and capabilities of the state’s two national laboratories and numerous subcontractors. At no cost, small businesses can seek assistance from lab scientists and engineers to solve challenges and overcome barriers to company success. Expenses incurred by the labs are reimbursed by the state of New Mexico as tax credits.

Since the program began, Sandia has provided $38.8 million in technical assistance to 2,263 businesses. Altogether, it has provided $62.5 million in technical assistance to 2,931 businesses, enabling 7,853 jobs to be created and retained across the state’s 33 counties.

“Sandia supports small businesses because we believe in their ability to create jobs and upward economic mobility for the people of New Mexico,” said Jackie Kerby Moore, manager of technology and economic development.

Sandia experts matched with small businesses

Paul Clem, a materials engineer at Sandia, has helped companies develop new optical and electrical technologies through the program. His work has included testing their prototypes and providing expert analysis.

“The increase in funding will double the level of effort that can be supplied to assist companies,” Clem said. “This is very helpful to explore topics in more depth and to provide access to advanced diagnostics and more experienced staff that may not have been possible under the prior funding levels.”

Sandia environmental engineer Brian Dwyer helps companies minimize pollution they generate. His work on small-business assistance projects has included analyzing soil or water samples to understand how companies can improve and then creating treatment plans and preventative measures they can implement.

One difficulty, he said, has been managing the companies’ expectations because the funding has not always been enough to cover everything they need.

“More funding will likely lessen this burden by allowing a little more assistance to be provided,” Dwyer said.

Sandia National Laboratories is a multimission laboratory operated by National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International Inc., for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. Sandia Labs has major research and development responsibilities in nuclear deterrence, global security, defense, energy technologies and economic competitiveness, with main facilities in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Livermore, California.