The Ames Laboratory plays an important role in the Ames community. With more than 400 full- and part-time employees and an annual budget of more than $50 million dollars, the Laboratory is one of the area's larger employers. The Lab's annual payroll amounts to roughly $20 million and the average annual salary is approximately $63,000 (based on total annual payroll divided by 310 full-time equivalent employees -- FY 14 estimated figures).
Harder to determine is the economic impact of Ames Laboratory's technology transfer efforts. A number of start-up and spinoff companies have located in Ames and Iowa, including Etrema Products, Combi-Sep Inc., which later merged with Advanced Analytical Technologies, Inc., and Catilin. Ames Laboratory scientists hold more than 175 patents and those technologies have been licensed or optioned 100 times.
The most successful technology licensed by Ames Laboratory is a lead-free solder developed by a team of researchers led by senior metallurgist Iver Anderson. The solder, which plays a vital role in eliminating hazardous lead from electronics and ultimately from landfills and groundwater, is licensed by more than 50 companies worldwide and has generated royalty revenues in excess of $55 million. A portion of that money has been used to support education and fund additional research at Ames Laboratory.
In fact, Ames Laboratory has consistently been one of the top producers of earned licensing income among the Department of Energy's 10 national laboratories despite being the smallest in terms of annual budget.