NASA Research Park (NRP) at NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley is a world-class shared-use R&D and education campus for industry, academia, non-profits, and government. NRP provides a physical place for innovation and entrepreneurship and serves as a technology accelerator through fostering both informal and formal collaborations. Today the NRP houses over 70 industry and university partners, with commercially standard leases, onsite collaborating with NASA on a variety of technologies and disciplines.
The National Research Council (NRC) reviewed and published reports on the NRP in 2001 and 2009, finding that, “NRP represented a new model for industry-government partnerships”, and that it was different than traditional science and technology parks in that NRP was providing a two-way street-- technology commercialization out of NASA and technology infusion to NASA, through onsite partnerships with industry and universities (2001). The NRC found that the NRP as, “having made great progress exceeding expectations and enacting NASA plans with remarkable effectiveness.” (2009)
NRP has proven business practices and processes, being reviewed by the IG, GAO and a Congressional Subcommittee. After visiting the NRP, other NASA Centers, national R&D labs, and international research parks, are attempting to duplicate the collaborative, business and leasing model.
In 2003 Ames was selected by NASA HQ as demonstration center to utilize the new Enhanced Use Leasing Authority (EUL), which over the following years, due the successful utilization by NRP, has been extended to all of the NASA Centers. In addition, the plan to develop the NRP, the NASA Ames Development Plan, was awarded the federal government-wide GSA award for Best Innovative Policy in 2003.
The NRP worked closely with the local, regional, state and federal elected officials in the planning for the NRP, securing a 5 million square foot entitlement for new onsite construction through the National Environmental Policy Act, completing the approved Environmental Impact Statement process in 2002. Ames demonstrated the ability to utilize the EUL program to execute leases of existing building space to many technology start-ups and universities as well as two large separate ground leases for new construction (they design, build and maintain their buildings through the term of the lease) with Planetary Ventures LLC (Google) on 42 acres and 1.2M sq. ft. of R&D office facilities and University Associates LLC (University of California) on 77 acres and 3M sq. ft. of R&D labs, classrooms and onsite housing.
NRP prospects (and only R&D and educational organizations are considered) go through a thorough programmatic vetting/screening process. NRP’s partnership selection criteria outlines “mission compatibility” and “program support capacity”. Ames Senior Management and Pursuit Registry Board approve all prospects, as does NASA Headquarters, before a lease commences.
As a technology accelerator, the NRP is pursuing the White House goals, “Accelerating Technology Transfer and Commercialization of Federal Research in Support of High-Growth Businesses”, as expressed in the October 28, 2011 Memo to Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies. The NRP has many startups and five companies that started in the NRP with only intellectual property and a plan, are now employing thousands in Silicon Valley: Bloom Energy, Tibion, Apprion, Nanostellar and Benetech.
Major universities have located in the NRP, including Carnegie Mellon University, which has already graduated over 700 graduate degree Masters and PhD students, with all the classes conducted onsite. University of California, Santa Clara University, Singularity University, Tasksha University and others operate classes and R&D programs onsite. Non-profits, including the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Collaborative, the Mars Institute, and the Kentucky Science and Technology Institute operate programs onsite.
NASA institutes and initiatives are also based in the NRP including: the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI); the NASA Aeronautics Institute; the NASA Space Portal; the NASA Earth Exchange (NEX) and the NASA Connect Lab pursuing scientific and technology collaborations.
The partners lease the space under the EUL authority as “exclusive space”, upon execution of the lease, the partners obtain access to their premises and NASA reserves the right to access the partner’s premises for emergencies and/or required facility maintenance. The lease requires the partner to obtain General Liability Insurance and add NASA as “additional insured”. The amount of insurance will depend on the size of space and nature of the activity. The lease also outlines the requirement for the partners to directly contract and pay to external providers for phone and Internet service. The NRP partners pay full fair market value for their leaseholds, based on local market comparable rates in the case of existing space and independent fair market value appraisal process was utilized to establish land values for the two ground leases.
The overall NASA Ames Research Center, of which the NRP is a part, is federal property and protected as required by statute and NASA policy. The NASA Ames area is secured by a fence and requires NASA badging to enter. Outside this fence is the NRP area and a valid photo ID is required for entry. NRP partner employees have a badge, which does not allow them access inside the Ames fence.
NRP partners are not “unleashed” to the government bureaucracy; each partner is assigned an Account Manager from the NRP Office, which only exists to manage the NRP, who handle every aspect of the partner’s physical occupancy and work as the liaison between the partner and the Center service providers. Also, on a weekly basis, representatives from all the effected Ames organizations meet as an Integrated Product Team (IPT) and review all the management and development issues in the NRP. The NRP IPT was awarded a NASA Group Honor Award this year.
NASA has established a new world-class R&D and educational campus for the nation: leveraging NASA resources for greater mission benefit; enhancing scientific research, technology advancement and transfer of research knowledge; and providing an exciting dynamic new opportunity for workforce development for high-tech careers.
History of NASA Research Park
In 1933 the United States government commissioned the Sunnyvale Naval Air Station to serve as home base for the Navy dirigible U.S.S. Macon. The Ames Aeronautical Laboratory was established in 1939 by Congress adjacent to the naval station as the west coast site of the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (NACA). In 1945 the Sunnyvale airfield was renamed Moffett Field, after Admiral Moffett lost his life in the 1935 crash of the U.S.S. Macon.
In 1958 the Ames Aeronautical Laboratory became a NASA field center when Congress created NASA with the National Aeronautics and Space Act. NASA Ames Research Center, one of the most active R & D centers in the United States, grew to occupy 500 acres adjacent to the Naval Air Station at Moffett Field.
Following the closure of Moffett Field as a military base in 1994, NASA Ames acquired stewardship for the navy property. NASA Ames, with the nearby communities of Mountain View and Sunnyvale, developed an award winning re-use plan to transform part of the former Naval Air Station into a world class R & D center dedicated to serving the goals of the nation's space program.
In 2002 NASA Research Park began collaborative partnerships with academia, industry and non-profits to stimulate innovation and education in science and research disciplines critical to space exploration. NASA Ames strategic partnering in key areas, including astrobiology, information technology, biotechnology and nanotechnology, will create a dynamic, integrated research community that provides R&D leadership into the 21st century.
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