FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 16, 1998

Department of Energy Announces Competition for National Prototype Center Charter Partners

OAK RIDGE, TN --The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced an effort to create technology partnerships with private sector companies at The National Prototype Center (NPC) located at the Oak Ridge Y-12 Plant.

The Y-12 Plant was designated as the National Prototype Center last year by the U.S. Congress. DOE is now seeking charter partners from the private sector. These charter partners would be able to more rapidly develop their new products and processes through their on-site access to the unique capabilities of the NPC.

In making the announcement, James C. Hall, Manager of DOE's Oak Ridge Offices said four charter partners would be selected through a nationwide competition. "We are encouraging companies who are developing new products or processes that need a 'jump-start to market' to compete for these partnerships in the NPC," said Hall.

The announcement of the call for competition was made at the 25th Annual WATTec Conference and Exhibition held at the Knoxville Hyatt Regency. WATTec, known as Tennessee's Technology Conference, focused its 1998 program on technological economic development.

Robert Van Hook, president of Lockheed Martin Energy Systems, the management and operating contractor for the Y-12 Plant, said, "The NPC could be a springboard to get products into production far more quickly than the standard industrial product development process. Bringing new and innovative products or processes to market quickly and cost-effectively is critical to success in the current manufacturing environment."

The NPC charter partners will work with the NPC and have access to the world-class expertise and facilities of the Centers for Manufacturing Technology at the Y-12 Plant and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Projects selected will be complementary to DOE's National Security mission and core competencies. Industry input on the opportunity and the details of the competition will be sought at a workshop planned for March 24 in Oak Ridge. A request for proposals will be published in the "Commerce Business Daily" on March 30, with a deadline for proposal submissions of June 30. Awards to successful partners will be made by July 15, 1998.

Companies selected for the partnership competition will be asked to locate a team of between two and twenty employees in Oak Ridge where they would work side-by-side with engineers and scientists from DOE facilities. Preference will be given to companies willing to locate manufacturing facilities in the area to produce the product developed with the help of the DOE and the NPC.

"Success of this competition will allow companies access to resources for expanding their business more quickly and provide opportunity for economic development and job creation in the region," Hall stated.

The NPC is a resource through which both government agencies and private industry can find the capabilities, skills, and resources needed to turn great ideas into innovative, affordable, manufacturable products. The NPC specializes in high-risk, complex prototype work integrating manufacturing, engineering, and scientific capabilities.

Y-12 has been developing unique one-of-a-kind prototypes for more than 50 years beginning with demanding requirements for national security missions in the early 1940s. More familiar examples of prototype successes include the Apollo "Moonbox," the Seawolf Submarine Propulsor Project, and the "hospital-in-a-box" developed last year for the U.S. Army and the Marine Corps. Currently, work is under way on the Marine Corps' Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle that will serve as a weapons platform for the Marines' challenging missions.

"The Y-12 Plant has more than a half century of prototype successes for the U.S. government and now its time to take proactive steps through this competition to make these prototyping capabilities more readily available to the private sector to boost the U.S. economy," Hall added.

The Y-12 Plant is managed and operated by Lockheed Martin Energy Systems for DOE.

-DOE-

News Media Contact: Steven Wyatt, (423) 576-0885; (Pager: 1-800-614-1242)

More information about the Y-12 Plant and the NPC is available at on the world wide web at www.ornl.gov/orcmt/npc.html. ORO's Home Page is located at http://www.oakridge.doe.gov/

R-98-007