Amanda Bradford, For the Sun-News | May 3, 2017
LAS CRUCES — The Arrowhead Innovation Fund at New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center is one of three organizations to receive investment from the state’s Catalyst Fund, a $20 million “fund of funds” to support New Mexico companies, Gov. Susana Martinez announced Tuesday in Albuquerque. The Catalyst Fund is expected to support more than 50 companies in New Mexico and will focus on aiding technology startups.
“New Mexico has the potential to be the next tech-startup capital of the United States,” Martinez said in announcing the investment. “Through this fund, we’re going to help these companies get off the ground to become the next Apple or Microsoft. And by doing so, all of New Mexico will reap the benefits, because we will diversify our economy and create more jobs.”
The Arrowhead Innovation Fund will receive a total investment of $800,000 from the Catalyst Fund, which, combined with investments from the NMSU Foundation and other private investors, will put the Arrowhead Innovation Fund close to its funding goal of $2 million.
The Arrowhead Innovation Fund will provide significant, transformative investment in some of the most promising companies being developed by NMSU affiliates or served by Arrowhead Center’s programs that are open to the community. The fund is now accepting applications at arrowheadcenter.nmsu.edu/aif, with a goal of investing in approximately 12 companies over the next three to four years.
“The investment that we can now make in these companies is significant, but there’s an additional value that we’ll provide in the form of access to the professional networks of our board members, who come from varied areas of expertise and can accelerate the growth of these companies,” said Estela Hernandez, managing director and president of the Arrowhead Innovation Fund.
Lawrence Chavez of Lotus Leaf Coatings is a member of the AIF Investment Committee. “The Arrowhead Innovation Fund is filling a critical need in the innovation ecosystem here in southern New Mexico,” Chavez said. “The support of the Catalyst Fund enables us to leverage their investment with the other supporters of the Arrowhead Innovation Fund to help seed these phenomenal technologies that come out of NMSU. Their ideas have real-world market potential that is very exciting.”
As NMSU’s innovation-driven economic development hub, Arrowhead Center provides technology incubation and commercialization through programming such as its Arrowhead Startup Sprints and the Launch proof-of-concept program, which identifies inventions and research products likely to be marketable, and provides cash awards and services to realize the companies’ potential.
The creation of a venture capital fund to support innovation was one of the goals identified by Arrowhead Center when it successfully competed for a million-dollar Economic Development Administration i6 Challenge matching grant, which has funded the expansion of Launch and the development of the Arrowhead Innovation Network.
“The i6 Challenge grant made a huge difference in our ability to move NMSU innovation to the market, and the Arrowhead Innovation Fund is an expansion of that impact,” Arrowhead Center Director and CEO Kathy Hansen said. “This investment from the Catalyst Fund will help AIF fill a critical investment gap and greatly accelerate the growth we can facilitate in New Mexico and beyond.”
The Catalyst Fund comprises $10 million in public funds allocated by the State Investment Council, $5 million from the State Small Business Credit Initiative and $5 million in commitments from private institutional investors. The fund requires that participating organizations provide matching private investment, bringing the total investment to at least $40 million.
“This fund will build on New Mexico’s strong tradition of success in the high-tech and entrepreneurial sectors,” said Economic Development Secretary Matt Geisel. “This investment strengthens our commitment to the success of homegrown New Mexico companies and hardworking New Mexican entrepreneurs.”
New Mexico-based companies wishing to identify venture capital funds that have received Catalyst Fund investment will be able to find a list on the New Mexico Economic Development Department’s website, www.gonm.biz.
For more information about the Arrowhead Innovation Fund, visit arrowheadcenter.nmsu.edu/aif.