STC.UNM was awarded a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration recently. The money will be used to help establish a new innovation center to anchor Innovate ABQ. 

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker made the announcement, saying, “The Obama administration is committed to investing in higher education and fostering innovation.”

The UNM regents and administration are working with the City of Albuquerque, New Mexico Educators Federal Credit Union, Bernalillo County and others to put together an initiative to establish a physical space in which entrepreneurs can work, live and establish new businesses.  The plan calls for the physical space to be at Central and Broadway.  Each entity is working to contribute funding to buy the old First Baptist Church property on the northwest corner of the intersection.  The grant will be used as part of UNM’s contribution.

“This is a very important part of UNM’s long term vision for economic development in Albuquerque,” said STC.UNM CEO and Chief Economic Development Officer Lisa Kuuttila.  “This grant helps give us the opportunity to build something exciting for the community and to assist our students and faculty as they work to build new technologies and new companies.”

The vision for Innovate ABQ is to provide a space for entrepreneurs to work in close proximity to the resources of UNM.  Albuquerque Mayor R.J. Berry has said he would like to see a business research district established in the area of Broadway and Central Ave. that would bring new life and activity to this section of the city.  Financing for the project is complex and still in development, but money from the grant may be combined with a major donation from New Mexico Educators Federal Credit Union and bond money approved by Albuquerque voters in a city election last month.

The grant to UNM’s STC.UNM is part of $2.4 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Commerce directed to support economic development projects in three states. “The EDA grants announced today support regional economic competitiveness and job creation in Louisiana, New Mexico and Texas,” Pritzker said.

The announcement cites the efforts of STC.UNM to work with researchers, scientists and companies to help get technologies developed at UNM to market.  It notes that Innovate ABQ is a collaborative initiative effort to bring together the research powers of the state’s flagship university and Albuquerque’s entrepreneurial and established business community to create new companies, grow existing ones and attract more out-of-state business.

The other grants included $300,000 to Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas to support the STAR Center for Materials and Life Sciences and $300,000 to Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas to expand the South Plains region’s capability in wind and other renewable energy.

The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is an agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce that makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.