Angels to Launch Second Startup Factory


By Kevin Robinson-Avila / Journal Staff Writer

Published: Friday, January 30th, 2015 at 3:18pm

Updated: Friday, January 30th, 2015 at 6:04pm

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Another New Mexico Angels “Startup Factory” is in the works to pull new, potentially marketable technologies out of the state’s research universities and national labs.

The NM Angels, which unites about 70 individuals who pool their resources to invest in early stage companies, is raising $150,000 to launch New Mexico Startup Factory II by March as a second holding company to seed the commercial development of laboratory inventions that can be spun into business endeavors. The first Startup Factory, started in 2012, created seven new companies in New Mexico, only one of which has failed, said NM Angels President John Chavez.

“We expect to fund at least four or five more companies through the second Startup Factory,” Chavez said. “We’re looking at things that can be rapidly spun out with seed funding and little business incubation.”

Six of the seven businesses formed through the first holding company were based on University of New Mexico technology, although some were developed through joint research with Sandia National Laboratories. The new holding company, however, will commercialize more technology from other research institutions apart from UNM.

“We have partnerships with both labs and with New Mexico State University,” Chavez said. “We’re looking now at a new technology from Los Alamos National Laboratory.”

The Startup Factory provides a novel model for facilitating collaboration between local investors and technology transfer professionals. It grew out of the Angels’ long-term partnership with the Science and Technology Corp., UNM’s tech-transfer office, which hosts an annual technology showcase for Angel investors to learn more about potentially marketable UNM inventions.

Some companies formed by the Startup Factory are achieving significant milestones. Lotis Leaf Coatings, for example – which is marketing a super water-repellent coating jointly developed by UNM and Sandia – just signed a distribution and licensing deal this week with Vision-Ease Lens of Minnesota.

Vision-Ease makes and markets lenses for eyeware. It will incorporate Lotus Leaf’s coating into its lenses to improve performance for customers, said Lotus Leaf CEO Lawrence Chavez.

“This partnership will take us into the eyeware market for the first time,” Chavez said. “Vision-Ease distributes their lenses through outlets worldwide.”

Among the Startup Factory’s other companies are three that are commercializing medical technologies to fight cancer and protect against stroke, one that is developing a micro-encapsulation process to make biopesticides more effective, and another that is marketing a device to speed fiber-optic communications. One of the cancer-fighting companies, ExoVita Biosciences, launched this month.