In the summer of 2012 as the concept of an innovation district was taking shape among UNM and community leaders as the key to reshaping the New Mexico economy, two important advisory groups were created.  The groups’ mission is to provide guidance and advice to UNM and STC in implementing successful economic development initiatives within the community, such as Innovate ABQ, as well as increasing UNM’s contribution to their success.

The Economic Development Forum (EDF, originally known as the Economic Development Advisory Group) was established by the STC.UNM Board of Directors to offer input and guidance to STC on economic development. EDF’s role as advisor to STC and UNM President Robert Frank is critical to the success of UNM’s economic development goals. The Forum is comprised of 85 members from the STC board, UNM and the business community and has been meeting monthly to share their knowledge and experience on how STC and UNM can expand their roles and contributions in establishing an entrepreneurial economy. The EDF is regularly informed of the developments of the Innovate ABQ project and provides input as the project continues to evolve. It is also working to promote student innovation and entrepreneurship; encourage faculty innovation and entrepreneurship; actively support the university technology transfer function; facilitate university-industry collaborations; and engage with regional and local economic development efforts.

The Economic Development Council (EDC) was established by President Frank and is comprised of UNM faculty and administrators who serve as a coordinating entity and think tank for the internal UNM community on economic development initiatives, specifically focusing on how UNM can impact the New Mexico economy.  The EDC serves as a collaborative center for internal initiatives and acts as a resource for STC and the UNM administration on economic development opportunities that correlate with UNM’s core mission of student success and research excellence. The EDC works to inform the internal UNM community on UNM’s role in economic development and promotes entrepreneurial education across all disciplines at UNM.

With plans moving forward to create an innovation district in downtown Albuquerque, the EDC is also planning for how UNM students will be a part of the Innovate ABQ process. The University will create an Innovation Academy, an entrepreneurial undergraduate curriculum that will be available for credit to all UNM students. The Academy will offer business and management training to students interested in gaining experience in creating and managing new businesses. Students from all disciplines will be able to earn credit toward their degrees through coursework and projects that teach business and management skills. The Academy is currently being developed by a subcommittee of the EDC, chaired by Interim Senior Vice Provost Carol Parker. The subcommittee is comprised of deans and faculty from law, business, the arts, engineering, architecture and education who are working to identify potential programs and curriculum for the Academy.