A $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration brings the University of New Mexico’s Innovate ABQ initiative one step closer to reality.
The Department of Commerce’s EDA announced the grant approval for UNM on Wednesday. The money will be used to help UNM’s Science and Technology Corp. establish Innovate ABQ, an innovation center that UNM and the City of Albuquerque hope to build to reinforce technology-based development in central New Mexico.
Together with a $3 million donation for the project from New Mexico Educators Federal Credit Union, plus $2 million in city bond funding approved by voters in October, UNM now has about $6.5 million available to purchase the seven-acre First Baptist Church site Downtown, where UNM and the city hope to establish the center headquarters.
UNM has secured a purchase option on that property, valid through Dec. 31. The site has a $7.5 million asking price, but by law the university can only pay the plot’s appraised value of $6.6 million.
U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., said the EDA grant approval will help New Mexico to accelerate technology transfer from research universities and national laboratories.
“New Mexico is leading the way in research efforts that we can channel into building a high-tech economy,” Udall said in a statement. “This innovation center will serve as an incubator to help new entrepreneurs take advantage of innovative research and turn it into a successful business.”
U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., said the project can reinforce joint public-private sector efforts to boost economic development.
“This investment…will help to foster industry partnerships that will boost job creation and encourage entrepreneurs to start businesses in New Mexico,” Heinrich said. “I look forward to working with each partner in this collaborative effort to ensure this innovation center becomes a reality.”