NM’s innovators need more industry engagement

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BY LISA J. KUUTTILA / PRESIDENT & CHIEF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OFFICER, UNM RAINFOREST INNOVATIONS

UNM Rainforest Innovations has been working with new inventors’ technologies developed at the University of New Mexico since 1995.

One of the most important things we do is to work in partnership with startup entrepreneurs. This enables the transfer of UNM technologies to the marketplace by helping to create new companies.

In addition, our role includes facilitating UNM’s role as a contributor to economic development in New Mexico. We have been facilitating the start of eight to 10 startups a year, and that has led to a robust portfolio of 160 companies to date.

A key partnership is with New Mexico Angels, an organization of individual accredited angels focused on investing in early-stage companies in the Southwest. They have provided both capital and mentorship for 17 startup companies developing UNM technologies for the marketplace. The partnership between our two organizations has been invaluable as we look to support the startup ecosystem and diversify the state’s economy.

What’s important for people to realize is these startups are job creators, and the jobs are well-paying. Additionally, these startups create ancillary jobs, including all the jobs in our service economy and the businesses that are needed to facilitate the startups’ mission. Many of the jobs are attractive for young people, and we are hopeful they will continue to turn the tide on the number of young people leaving our state for greener pastures. The work we are doing also provides an opportunity for both students and young people to start businesses with a safety net of established business owners supporting them.

The technologies being developed are truly revolutionary. A recent company is Neurochronix, which is developing new non-opioid therapeutics for chronic pain management. The implications nationally and globally are huge, and it was developed right here at UNM by a faculty member and vice chair of research in the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine.

The bottom line is this — we need more businesspeople to get engaged.

In addition to investing in startups and providing mentorship, there are a lot of roles business leaders can play including serving as a CEO of a startup, being an adviser or becoming a board member. Help us accelerate the startup successes and know your efforts will pay off tenfold — if not higher.

Read on the ABQ Journal’s website here