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NM governor announces two high-tech R&D initiatives

Jason T. McConville, Ph.D., Associate Professor Pharmaceutical Sciences at the UNM College of Pharmacy, tests an oral strip he developed, photographed Dec. 24, 2012. (Pat Vasquez-Cunningham/Albuquerque Journal)

Jason T. McConville, Ph.D., Associate Professor Pharmaceutical Sciences at the UNM College of Pharmacy, tests an oral strip he developed, photographed Dec. 24, 2012. (Pat Vasquez-Cunningham/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Gov. Susana Martinez on Thursday proposed a pair of high-tech research and development initiatives aimed at recruiting top faculty at the state’s higher education institutions and funding innovation projects from researchers at labs and universities that can contribute to economic growth.

“Building a stronger pipeline of innovation in our state is key to growing our economy and establishing New Mexico as a high-tech leader,” she said during a news conference at the University of New Mexico.

The proposals include reforming the Higher Education Endowment fund and appropriating $7.5 million to allow New Mexico’s colleges and universities to compete for endowed chairs, in order to attract some of the nation’s top professors, scientists, and researchers to their schools, she said in a news release.

These professors and researchers should be able to attract and train highly motivated students to become part of New Mexico’s high-tech workforce, or to become innovators looking to launch companies around important new research, products, and ideas.

Endowment grants would be made on a competitive basis, and better targeted toward key economic sectors and priorities, the governor’s office said.

All projects would continue to require a university or college to match the state award with a 50 percent match in private funds.

The governor’s “leadership on this proposed legislation to connect public dollars to private funds shows an inspired commitment to ensuring that our colleges and universities continue to compete for the nation’s top faculty members,” said UNM President Robert Frank.

Later at New Mexico Tech in Socorro, Martinez announced a second proposal to activate the Technology Research Collaborative (TRC), signed into law last year, that allows teams of researchers to compete for funding to support the development and commercialization of innovative ideas and products – so that they can be brought to market in our state.

The governor said she is asking for a $2 million appropriation to the TRC, which requires that each project it reviews and funds be a collaboration between a national laboratory and a research university in our state.

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