LAS CRUCES – Arrowhead Center, the economic development engine at New Mexico State University, has launched a new Arrowhead StartupSprint aimed at all New Mexico tech startups, regardless of their affiliation with the university. StartupSprints support growth-driven companies through education, mentorship, and financing in a short period, cohort-based setting.
Funded by a gift from NM Gas Company, TechSprint is now accepting applications for its spring 2017 cohort, which will begin in late March. TechSprint is designed to test the feasibility of a business idea, with a goal to accelerate New Mexico technology startups to drive economic growth. Through TechSprint, teams will receive mentorship, coaching and $2,000 in participant support.
The three-week sprint program will follow curriculum from Aggie I-Corps, Arrowhead Center’s National Science Foundation Innovation Corps site, to support tech startup teams as they work to reach a “go” or “no-go” decision about their business. Nationally, I-Corps is an NSF initiative designed to leverage university research to create new innovative businesses and increase the economic impact of inventions created at research institutions around the country. If the decision is “go,” a TechSprint project may receive eligibility for the national I-Corps program, which includes a $50,000 award.
While other Aggie I-Corps teams require participants to have an NMSU connection – a team member who is a student, for example – TechSprint offers New Mexico tech startups without an NMSU affiliation access to I-Corps. The topical focus of projects must be in an area of science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) normally supported by the NSF.
Kramer Winingham, who oversees the Aggie I-Corps program at Arrowhead Center, said the program was an expansion that will increase the program’s reach statewide and open up the field for businesses to seek further funding from the NSF.
NMSU is one of only 51 academic institutions nationwide to be selected as an I-Corps Site. Other I-Corps Sites include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Chicago, Carnegie-Mellon University, Purdue University, UCLA, University of Pennsylvania and other top research institutions.
“We are very excited to be opening up our I-Corps Site and providing access to technology startups in New Mexico,” Winingham said. “I-Corps is a tremendous program that provides great value through coaching, mentorship and entrepreneurial training – in addition to great follow-on funding opportunities, including the $50,000 NSF I-Corps program and SBIR/STTR programs.”
Those programs, Winingham said, fund businesses to do extensive market research on their potential product as they work to bring an idea to market.
Teams must include an entrepreneurial lead, a technical lead, and a business mentor. The entrepreneurial lead must be based in New Mexico. Though a full team is not needed to apply, preference is given to complete team applications. The three-week program will meet on Friday mornings from March 31 to April 28. Teams may attend meetings in-person or virtually, for those located across the state.
The spring 2017 application deadline is March 12. For more information, or to apply for TechSprint, visit arrowheadcenter.nmsu.edu/techsprint.
Funding for TechSprint is provided by New Mexico Gas Co. through Arrowhead’s University Center for Regional Commercialization.
By Lauren Goldstein, For the Sun-News 1:00 a.m. MT March 5, 2017