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Innovate NM flaunts cutting-edge technology

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New Mexico Tech biotechnology student Danielle Turner, who presented the university’s new antibacterial cream to Innovate New Mexico participants, is shown here at work in the universitys biosafety lab. (Courtesy of NM Tech)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico’s national labs and research universities pitched a dozen new technologies to investors and entrepreneurs at the state’s fourth Innovate New Mexico showcase on Tuesday.

The event at Sandia Casino’s Golf Club unites scientists, engineers and technology transfer professionals to build interest among potential funders and corporate partners to take emerging lab and university innovation to market.

The initiative, begun in spring 2016 as a twice-annual event, attracted about 150 participants this time, including angel investors, venture capitalists, and corporate technology scouts from the U.S. and other countries.

Presenters unveiled a broad range of cutting-edge advances, such as:

n a topical cream that kills antibiotic-resistant bacteria in skin infections, developed by New Mexico Tech in Socorro.

n a novel genetic engineering technique to improve alfalfa crop growth and yields from New Mexico State University.

n a Sandia National Laboratories process to add indentations on the surfaces of vehicles, ships and aircraft to reduce friction from turbulence and increase fuel efficiency.

n a method to make solar cells on spacecraft more robust to prolong operation in harsh space conditions, developed by the University of New Mexico and the Air Force Research Laboratory.

Investors said they were impressed by the scope and potential impact of technologies on display, and by the ability of all six New Mexico labs and research universities to work together to promote innovation.

“The raw talent and innovation that exists here is impressive,” said McLain Southworth of San Francisco-based Crosslink Capital. “The way they’ve organized everything together in one event is about the most effective process I’ve seen in these types of lab and university presentations. It’s a winning strategy that could help New Mexico become the next big tech hub.”

Louis Berneman, founding partner of Philadelphia-based venture firm Osage University Partners, said attracting venture investment is extremely difficult given the intense competition among startups nationally.

“We look for transformative, paradigm-shifting technologies,” Berneman told conference participants. “…We’re impressed with what we’ve seen here. Albuquerque and New Mexico have real opportunities coming out of the research institutions.”

One technology, the process for making solar cells on spacecraft more robust, already attracted an initial investment from the New Mexico Angels, which recently formed a new startup to take it to market. That company, Ozasda Energy LLC, emerged from stealth mode for the first time at the conference.

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