Innovate: At the University of New Mexico, that word is key to a two-fold push to get UNM more involved in economic development, both within the university and the greater community it serves.

When UNM President Robert Frank came to Albuquerque, he expressed the need to create more jobs for graduates, more opportunities for research to become products and more entrepreneurial encouragement for students.

The result was the creation of two key components, InnovateABQ and innovationAcademy. Much attention has gone to the various stages of developing InnovateABQ, an economic development program that partners with public organizations and private industry, while innovationAcademy has been a primarily behind-the-scenes effort within the academic levels of the University. Now both are set to take off in the coming year.

Innovate ABQ is designed to create an entrepreneurial district in partnership with the city, county and business leaders that will help retain students and researchers at UNM and facilitate the creation of new business and jobs.

innovationAcademy, the academic counterpart to InnovateABQ, is designed to foster an entrepreneurial spirit throughout the university. The program will promote hands-on learning experience with the goal of providing students with the basic skills necessary to be innovative and to develop business skills. It is set to begin with the fall semester at UNM.

The big change innovationAcademy brings to UNM is the new focus on ways to build and manage a career in all areas of academics. Instead of the traditional focus on engineering and the business school, students from all academic sectors can be part of innovationAcademy.

“If you’re a student who has thought about creating a product or new technology, starting your own company or improving an existing product or service, innovationAcademy was designed with you in mind.” – Innovation Academy Director Robert DelCampo

“The reality is that as a dancer, you are going to be your own boss,” said newly-appointed innovationAcademy Director Robert DelCampo. “You’re likely to be a freelance type person. There’s going to be a need for you to take control of your own career and find an avenue to make yourself successful.”

DelCampo believes innovationAcademy is a way to better prepare students for life outside the university by participating in real-world projects, internships and business pursuits involved with InnovateABQ.

In the example of the dancer, that student could take a course or two on running a business or navigating a career in a commercial enterprise such as a dance company. DelCampo is currently searching for courses in every curriculum that can be revised to give students some perspective about handling themselves in a commercial environment.

“If you’re a student who has thought about creating a product or new technology, starting your own company or improving an existing product or service, innovationAcademy was designed with you in mind,” DelCampo said. 

The innovationScholars program, a program within innovateAcademy, was detailed in a brief presentation. Several students completed an application during the kickoff event. Additionally, experts answered questions about the program, which officially launches next fall as part of Innovate ABQ, a high-tech research and development site.

To become an Innovation Academy Scholar students:

  • Enroll in at least one Innovation Academy course a year
  • Attend the Innovation Academy Start-Up School – a free/no credit series of lectures and discussions
  • Participate in a project team for the Anderson School of Management business Plan Competition
  • Serve as an active member of a chartered student organization
  • Attend additional lecture and workshop events throughout the academic year
  • Or participate in the STEM collaborative

The IA students must also work with Career Services to develop personal branding and marketing skills, and cultivate a personal story of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurial thought.

Additional details on UNM’s innovateAcademy are still being formulated. A website with additional information will soon go live.

For more information, visit: innovationAcademy.