UNM technology innovations and entrepreneurship are making an impact

November 15, 2016 - Compiled by Sharon Steely for CHTM

UNM duck pond

Technology innovations and entrepreneurial ideas developed at The University of New Mexico (UNM) are making an impact by drawing national attention, winning competitions and entering the marketplace. UNM's "entrepreneurial ecosystem" is growing and bearing fruit.

Students are stepping up

Most recently, the Mayor's Prize competition awarded a $50,000 grant to a collaborative program created by UNM’s Innovation Academy, local accelerator Creative Startups, and UNM's Science and Technology Corporation (STC.UNM or STC). The Mayor’s Prize awarded four grants to local entrepreneurial programs focused on helping aspiring inventors and entrepreneurs across a broad spectrum of groups, including students at UNM. The collaboration will fund a project called the Lobo Launch Labs to help entrepreneurial students majoring in creative disciplines such as design, architecture, film, animation, media, music, advertising and fine arts launch businesses in New Mexico. Students at the University of New Mexico and other higher education institutions in the state will be eligible. The goal is to develop a pipeline of these students who will grow their new creative businesses in Albuquerque, alongside the technology-inspired businesses already establishing roots in the community. 1

Lightbulb goes off!

The spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and well for UNM students! The recent UNM Rainforest Student Pitch Competition for students, held November 7th at the Bow & Arrow Brewing Co., drew a large and enthusiastic audience. 2 The Elevator Pitch competion was jointly launched in 2014 by UNM’s Innovation Academy and STC.UNM to inspire student entrepreneurship, said STC head Lisa Kuuttila, who explained that "four of the ten startups that participated in the competition are already operating or preparing for launch." Two Nanoscience graduates were included among the $1,000 winners: Robert Malakhov for a method for regenerating cartilage in people with cartilage damage and disease; and Patrick Johnson for a yeast management and production company for breweries. 3 Kuutilla said “The quality is going up. Students are showing more savvy on what ideas to pitch with much stronger delivery than in the past.”

A new location for UNM’s Innovation Academy is being planned at the Innovate ABQ research and development site, currently under construction downtown. Enrollments grew to 420 this semester for the Innovation Academy, which offers students direct experience and real-world skills in entrepreneurship. 3

Albuquerque startup Pressure Analysis Co. leverages UNM technology

Mobile Future, a Washington, D.C.-based association that encourages investment and innovation in wireless technology, announced Nov. 3 that Albuquerque startup Pressure Analysis Co. (PAC) is one of its “Sweet Sixteen” finalists competing for four cash prizes ranging from $2,500 to $10,000. PAC is marketing SmackCAP, which uses sensors developed at UNM in a skull cap that enable athletes in rough sports to track and measure hits to the head for better protection against long-term injuries. "The SmackCAP measures all impacts as they happen, with simultaneous wireless transmission to the sidelines for analysis," said company CEO Michelle Urban. “We’re beyond the prototype stage now. We plan to have sellable units out by next year.” 4 PAC is now taking pre-orders for SmackCAPs. 5

Learn more at the source:

  1. UNM Innovation Academy, Creative Startups, and STC Team Up to Win Mayor’s Prize Award, STC.UNM
  2. Rainforest Student Pitch Competition Draws Large Crowd for UNM Student Innovations, STC.UNM
  3. Six student startups finish in the money, by Kevin Robinson-Avila, Albuquerque Journal
  4. SmackCap makes national finals, by Kevin Robinson-Avila, Albuquerque Journal
  5. Local Start-up Commercializing UNM Sensor Technology for Head Impacts, STC.UNM