Supporting New Mexico’s startups is good for everyone - Albuquerque Journal

Supporting New Mexico’s startups is good for everyone

John Rice

Editor’s Note: Throughout 2022, New Mexico Angels members, investors and start-up owners will be writing columns on economic development and start-up opportunities in the state. The Angels unite individual investors to pool their resources, providing seed and early-stage capital to startup companies.

An African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child” expresses the commonsense notion that an entire community of people must help educate and nurture its children, providing the living lessons of both good examples and bad apples, and stepping up with support and counsel when a child is troubled or failing so that each child may grow into a responsible and good person.

So too, “it takes a kind of village” to nurture, support, and help grow startup businesses, the children of our economy.

The New Mexico Angels reopened after the first year of COVID and redefined themselves as being fellow members of an Ecosystem Village composed of: ABQid and Ingenuity and CNM’s many other parts; UNM’s Anderson School of Business and the Rainforest; the incubator community as exemplified by WESST and the Santa Fe Business Incubator; Los Alamos National Lab and Sandia National Laboratories; New Mexico Biotechnology & Biomedical Association; the growing number co-working spaces, city and state economic development resources, Job Training Incentive Program, and so many more economic villagers.

Before COVID, we were many parts, and looked like a village of silos. In our emerging post-COVID economy we are still many parts, but we now pull evermore together so that we are part of a collaborating dynamic network of resources available to help birth and nurture startup businesses.

There is a lot going on, there is a lot to do. We hope that our broader state business culture and community will buy into the startup mantra, “Yes, we can!”

The Albuquerque Journal regularly highlights and features local start-up companies. We New Mexicans would do well to take pride in these budding enterprises. In the same way that sports teams excel the most when they have a connected and avid fan base, so our emerging entrepreneurs may fly higher as our public support, high expectations and cheers provide stronger winds beneath their wings.

Recently, the New Mexico Economic Development Department announced eight recipients of $25,000 science and technology grants. This is one of many initiatives our state has to support start-up and growing companies. The grant funds high-growth companies that provide a unique product or service, have a clear and compelling business proposition, demonstrate a scalable product and business model, with the potential to create jobs in New Mexico, as well as garner private investment. The purpose is that they provide economic benefit to the state greater than the award amount.

Kudos to Alicia Keyes, our state’s Cabinet Secretary for Economic Development; Alex Greenberg, director of the Office of Science and Technology; and the rest of the NM EDD team for supporting these companies’ potential for positive economic impact in New Mexico. Thanks also to the Technology Research Collaborative Board, consisting of business and economic development professionals that reviewed 70 applications to make recommendations. Their work is advancing such companies as T-Neuro Pharma, Allerpops, and Orch Tech.

Among the recipients is a company in the New Mexico Angels’ portfolio — Nob Hill Therapeutics, Inc. NHT is commercializing a technology developed at the University of New Mexico, which is manufacturing an inhaled dry powder drug delivery device to create effective inhalation therapies for lower respiratory tract infections and other deadly lung diseases. The COVID pandemic has brought to light what lung diseases can do to people, and lower respiratory tract infections is the fifth leading overall cause of death worldwide. This company is an excellent example of collaboration with UNM’s Rainforest, benefiting from other programs of New Mexico Economic Development and applying for the state’s angel tax credit. New Mexico Angels are confident that NHT’s technology will advance nationally to help save lives, while growing a solid business with economic benefit for Albuquerque and the state.

Being a citizen of our Economic Ecosystem Village is about much more than investments. It’s about providing mentorship, leadership and guidance to New Mexico’s start-up and high-growth community. So many successful businesses in the Land of Enchantment were once fledgling startups. Think about who you would be today if not for the support of individuals and entities in your “village” that took time to advance you on your journey.

I’m bullish on New Mexico. I am proud to see so many companies starting and beginning to thrive here. I hope you’ll join in our mission to have New Mexico be the leader in birthing and growing successful startups as a member of this growing village, an all-important business startup support group. If you can’t play, coach; if you can’t coach, cheer!

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