The final morning of the Legislative Finance Committee meeting at the SUB commenced with some optimistic projections from Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry. He touted the city’s many new partnerships with UNM, including Innovate ABQ, which is designed to foster better “mind to market” opportunities leading to commercialization of research, more job creation and more opportunities for New Mexico graduates to stay in New Mexico to live and work.

During a subsequent tech transfer panel presentation, Lisa Kuutila, who is CEO of STC.UNM, built on that theme. STC is the university’s tech transfer arm which facilitates UNM’s role as a contributor to economic development in New Mexico. The just completed fiscal year has been a good one for STC, which reports 138 new inventions, 50 new patents, 63 license agreements and nine new startup companies. Kuutila said the state is strong in ideas, academia and culture, but needs money for venture capital and gap funding. There is also need for a research district that concentrates technology businesses and creates an ecosystem for more startups.

Several committee members were attentive to the ecosystem idea and questioned if recruiting large business or growing more small business was the optimal way to go. Kuutila figures New Mexico should do both – grow its own business and recruit more business from outside. Both will need an educated workforce, especially in the STEHM fields: science, technology, engineering, health care and math.

Field Trip
The foundations for a STEHM education lie in core areas like Physics and Engineering. At UNM, the facilities in greatest need of renovation house those two disciplines. So the LFC ended its meeting today with a tour of Farris Engineering and the Physics & Astronomy building, which headline UNM’s capital requests for general obligation bond money. The tour was an eye-opener for many committee members. The state of the buildings left them suitably subdued.

Interim Road Show continues
On Monday, UNM will host the Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee. President Frank will be presenting his plans for a College of Public Health. We’ll have more on that Monday.