Driving Tech to Market

Monday, January 13, 2014

The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro is paving a path to market for new technologies, and it’s placing students in the driver’s seat.

The university’s newly created Center for Leadership in Technology Commercialization, launching this month, will offer a slate of new courses and hands-on experience for undergraduate and graduate students to acquire knowledge and skills to guide new technologies to market.

Under the program, teams of students will conduct market studies and other tasks to help researchers commercialize innovation from the university and from New Mexico’s national laboratories.

Administrators expect that to lead to new startup companies, generating more revenue for the university and creating job opportunities for students, said Management Department Chairman Peter Anselmo.

“Students will become the bridge between researchers and the market,” Anselmo told the Journal . “That will help move technology out of the labs, while allowing students to develop skills and knowledge to create businesses.”

Overall, the university wants to create a “culture of entrepreneurship” on campus, said New Mexico Tech President Dan Lopez.

“Students will work on real-life projects that we believe have commercial potential,” Lopez said. “But if those projects don’t pan out, those students will still learn to create companies. As a result, rather than look for jobs, some of them will instead generate jobs themselves.”

That concept isn’t new. Rather, it reflects an emerging strategy at universities in New Mexico and elsewhere.

An emerging strategy
The clear area in the center of this culture plate demonstrates how efficiently the new IM9 compound – designed by New Mexico Tech – kills multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. The compound could have many commercial applications, such as fighting drug-resistant bacteria or sterilizing equipment or wounds.

The clear area in the center of this culture plate demonstrates how efficiently the new IM9 compound – designed by New Mexico Tech – kills multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. The compound could have many commercial applications, such as fighting drug-resistant bacteria or sterilizing equipment or wounds.

The University of New Mexico, for example, has built a particularly robust technology transfer program through its Science and Technology Corp. that emphasizes interdisciplinary collaboration across campus among students and faculty. In fact, UNM launched a professional science master’s program in 2010 to teach science students business skills to help move innovative research from lab to market.

And the Anderson School of Management’s annual technology business plan competition, now in its eighth year, aims to provide hands-on entrepreneurial skills to students while motivating them to build companies around new technology.

UNM is also developing a new “Innovation Academy” as part of the Innovate ABQ research district it hopes to create Downtown. The academy will offer classes and real-world training in commercializing new technology, and in building and managing business ventures.

New Mexico State University in Las Cruces also offers hands-on training and assistance for students to form startup companies through its Arrowhead Center Inc.

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