In the August 26 Albuquerque Journal Business Outlook, there’s a noteworthy article by technology reporter Kevin Robinson-Avila about STC.UNM and the success it’s having under President and CEO Lisa Kuuttila’s leadership. The article can be seen on the abqjournal website.
As the article says, 11 new technology startups have been launched in the last fiscal year which is roughly similar to the results in earlier years. Dozens of startups more have been formed by faculty and students with the assistance of STC.UNM and UNM’s Innovation Academy headed by Prof. Rob DelCampo. The Innovation Academy was expected to attract maybe 75 students but an astounding 950 are enrolled in the program.
Over the years, dozens of other UNM startup companies, many financed by the New Mexico Angels, have continued to grow and add employees.
The New Mexico Angels have played a crucial role as the New Mexico State Investment Council under the previous Governor steadily reduced, rather than increased, the Severance Tax Permanent Fund’s investments in local venture funds which is authorized by state statutes.
That short-sightedness has resulted in the unnecessary failure of some startups while others have grown more slowly for lack of investment capital. Luckily, a sea change in SIC attitudes is underway.
This recounting of STC.UNM’s success comes at a crucial time for its sister organization, Innovate ABQ, also headquartered in the Lobo Rainforest building at Broadway and Central. I’m on the board of both organizations.
Innovate ABQ’s chief role has been to rehab the old buildings on the campus to house incubator and other spaces for startup companies. But it has struggled to find the funding to do so or even to convince the Assessor that it should not be taxed as a for-profit endeavor.
We need to give Innovate ABQ a chance to succeed, just as we did with STC.UNM.