Businesses benefit from continued Lab technical assistance, thanks to new legislation

TRGR Technology Readiness Initiative upgraded to 5-year program

April 20, 2022

Econ Dev Trgr Opt
Through TRGR, the Lab assisted Pajarito Powder in identifying catalyst degradation mechanisms.

New Mexico companies seeking to develop new technology products based on Laboratory research will continue to be able receive technical assistance from the state’s national laboratories. The New Mexico Legislature agreed to upgrade the TRGR Technology Readiness Initiative from a three-year pilot to a full five-year program.

Launched in 2020, the initiative provides New Mexico businesses the opportunity to work directly with scientists and engineers at Los Alamos or Sandia national laboratories, advancing technologies licensed from or developed in a research partnership with the national laboratories to expedite product development.

"When a technology is transferred out of the laboratories, there's significant capital investment and research and development effort required to mature that technology to a place where it is market ready," said Mariann Johnston, acting deputy division leader for the Laboratory’s Feynman Center for Innovation. "TRGR is a dedicated investment in time and capital to transition technology out of the federal laboratories and into the marketplace. This is an essential ingredient to create more startups, capital, and technology jobs in New Mexico." 

Benefits for businesses

Eligible New Mexico businesses can access up to $150,000 a year to work with a national laboratory in advancing the technology closer to a commercialization milestone. Assistance (which must not be available in the private sector) may include prototyping, proof-of-concept and technical validation among other approved activities. 

This assistance comes at no cost to the companies and is made possible by the State of New Mexico tax credit, which pays for the laboratory technical staff, labor and materials.

Also contained in the bill is a provision to simplify the program's administration, making it a direct tax credit with a ceiling of $1 million per fiscal year per laboratory.

Pilot successes

During the initiative's pilot stage, 11 New Mexico companies have accessed assistance from Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories, including Pajarito Powder, a designer and manufacturer of hydrogen fuel cell catalysts. Through TRGR, LANL assisted the company in identifying catalyst degradation mechanisms.

The program has also accelerated further technology transfer to New Mexico businesses, with 10 licenses issued and two cooperative research and development agreements reached, and more in the pipeline.

The governor signed the bill into law on March 8, securing the future of the program until 2027.