STC.UNM, The University of New Mexico’s technology-transfer and economic-development organization, announced today that it has received a University Center Grant from the federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) to support high-growth entrepreneurs and provide training and technical assistance at all UNM campuses.

The grants are awarded through an open and competitive process in five-year cycles across all six economic development regions as designated by the EDA. UNM will join 58 other University Centers across the nation who support and foster economic transformation of their state and regional economies. UNM’s award is $112,850 per year for up to five years.

“This grant will cover all UNM sites—the main campus in Albuquerque, UNM West in Rio Rancho and branches in Taos, Los Alamos, Valencia and Gallup,” said STC CEO Lisa Kuuttila.  “This funding will allow us to spread the Rainforest program for developing innovation and economic ecosystems across the state to boost regional economic development. The EDA University Center Program encourages creating strong rural-urban linkages and collaborations with Native American communities, areas of focus especially relevant to New Mexico.”

Kuuttila, who is the principal investigator on the grant, will work with UNM’s Innovation Academy to develop an entrepreneurial training program for students and community members that will be available at the main and branch campuses.

Professor Rob DelCampo, executive director of the Innovation Academy says, “Partnering with STC.UNM to deliver this type of programming to our branches is incredibly exciting. The ability to bring our programming across the region is a natural extension to our work and so vital to the development of our regional network.  Entrepreneurship is a tried and true pathway to economic development, and the communities UNM serves have been clamoring for these supports.”

The program will be a blended model of training, support, and resources for emerging entrepreneurs provided by experts/mentors who will instruct onsite and through distance learning and teleconferencing that will build relationships and skills.

STC and the Innovation Academy will create a new certificate program in Entrepreneurial Capabilities available to students and community members. The program will use existing programming and include offerings of up to 20 different seminars each year on topics such as Intellectual Property Basics, Pitch Deck Basics, How to Pitch Your Business, Starting a Business, Market and Business Model Validation, Lean Startup and Customer Discovery, and Investments. Participants who attend at least 60 percent of the seminars (12) will be awarded a Certificate of Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

The EDA University Center Economic Development Program’s mission is to make university resources available to regions that are under chronic and acute economic distress due to, for example, high unemployment and low-income levels. A university’s specialized research, sophisticated labs and faculty expertise, industry collaborations, and its technology-transfer and commercialization capabilities are resources that can be used to respond to the economic-development needs of local and regional communities. 

These assets can advance STEM and entrepreneurial skills statewide, provide workforce training opportunities that are matched to the needs of local employers, and provide technical and business expertise for new company growth.