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ABQid accelerator merges with CNM Ingenuity

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The ABQid business accelerator and Central New Mexico Community College are joining forces.

The accelerator has agreed to become part of CNM Ingenuity, a nonprofit that manages all of the college’s commercial activities, allowing it to absorb ABQid’s assets and programs, said CNM Ingenuity Executive Director Kyle Lee. The boards of both entities approved the merger last week, although final details are still being worked out.

No cash has changed hands in the deal.

“It’s a merger of nonprofits that will bring ABQid under the CNM Ingenuity umbrella,” Lee told the Journal Monday.

For the college, the agreement broadens CNM Ingenuity’s slate of entrepreneurial initiatives and infrastructure, which currently includes its Deep Dive Coding program, the FUSE Makerspace Downtown and CNM’s IGNITE Community Accelerator.

Unlike IGNITE, which focuses on launching and strengthening Main Street-type businesses, ABQid helps aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators build technology-based startups, Lee said. In addition, ABQid manages a $2.3 million investment fund, which will now be transferred to CNM Ingenuity.

CNM will replace ABQid as the fund’s general partner. The staff managing the fund and the investment committee will remain unchanged, although Lee will now join the committee, said ABQid Executive Director T.J. Cook.

The fund investors, who will eventually earn returns on investments in startups that succeed in the market, all support the merger, Cook added. That includes Sun Mountain Capital, which manages the State Investment Council’s private equity investments. Sun Mountain committed $2 million to the ABQid fund in 2017 from the SIC’s Catalyst Fund, set up to channel money to small venture funds that invest in early-stage startups in New Mexico.

For ABQid, the merger puts the college’s institutional strength behind its program, allowing the accelerator to expand its reach and potential impact.

“We can leverage all of the college’s professional and technical expertise in grant-writing and fund-raising to better market the accelerator and win more business,” Cook said. “We’ll also gain access to CNM infrastructure, including physical space and information technology, plus administrative support in things like accounting, programming and event planning.”

CNM’s institutional prestige and brand recognition will boost ABQid’s fund-raising capacity, said ABQid Director of Business Development and Finance Harold Lavender.

“It elevates our name in the community,” Lavender said.

Perhaps most important, the merger strengthens both entities’ ability to provide educational services and resources to support local entrepreneurs and economic development, said CNM President Kathie Winograd.

“ABQid is a successful, established and respected brand in our community that has been a key player in advancing the resurgent entrepreneurial movement in the Albuquerque area,” Winograd said in a prepared statement. “We can’t wait to help build on that momentum by providing ABQid with the substantial support, expertise and resources that exists within CNM ingenuity.”

Since launching in 2014, ABQid has trained more than 2,000 aspiring entrepreneurs through its workshops and accelerator programs. It’s also invested about $1.2 million in 31 local startups.

None of the accelerator’s current programs will change. That includes eight-week boot camps that ABQid offers to entrepreneurs in partnership with the WESST incubator Downtown, plus its annual pitch competitions at the Taos Ski Valley in winter and in fall in Albuquerque during the Balloon Fiesta.

Cook, Lavender and ABQid Program Manager Hanes Motsinger will remain in their positions as CNM employees.

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