ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — John Freisinger, former head of the now-defunct Technology Ventures Corp., will take over Oct. 3 as the first executive director of Innovate ABQ, the high-tech research and development hub taking shape at Central and Broadway in Downtown Albuquerque.
The Innovate ABQ board announced Freisinger’s appointment Monday morning. Terry Laudick, Nusenda Credit Union president and CEO and current chair of the Innovate ABQ board, has until now served as Innovate ABQ’s acting executive director.
“We couldn’t have found a better person than John to continue this work creating a seven-acre innovation center in Downtown Albuquerque,” Laudick said in a prepared statement. “His knowledge as a venture-backed entrepreneur, leading to his role as head of TVC, will be invaluable as this one-of-a-kind innovation center continues to grow and thrive.”
Freisinger headed TVC from 2011 to April 30 of this year, when the change in management at Sandia National Laboratories forced the organization to shut its doors. Former lab manager Lockheed Martin Corp. had funded TVC since 1993 to help guide and accelerate the transfer of new Sandia technologies from lab to market. But incoming manager Honeywell International decided not to pick up that sponsorship.
Freisinger’s time at TVC, plus his long experience as a serial entrepreneur before that, are key assets for Innovate ABQ, which aims to build a bustling center for innovation, entrepreneurship, startups and technology transfer. The project is gaining momentum, with the opening of the new, six-story Lobo Rainforest building in August at the site and Tuesday’s planned opening of Central New Mexico Community College’s new FUSE Makerspace next door.
In addition, last week the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration awarded $1 million to Innovate ABQ to help begin renovation on the First Baptist Church sanctuary on the southeast corner of the site, which will become a high-tech, multi-use complex for entrepreneurial programs and startups.
“It’s a great moment to join Innovate ABQ, which has had some good early success,” Freisinger told the Journal. “We’re now entering the next phase of operationalizing the whole project, and that’s where my background and strengths are.”
In the short- to medium term, Freisinger will work to bring more public, private and community partners into the project.
“We have many partners already within the fold who are committed to the ideas behind Innovate ABQ,” Freisinger said. “We want to get more partners on board and aligned around a common mission to work on.”
In the long term, the challenge will be to turn the project into a lasting endeavor.
“It’s all about sustainability, generating the long-term traction to sustain and grow it,” Freisinger said.