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Heady times for NM’s tech sector

Copyright © 2014 Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico’s economy may still be dragging its heels, but this year’s list of top-performing technology companies shows stellar growth in the state’s high-tech industry.

A total of 32 companies earned a place on the 2014 New Mexico Flying 40, an annual listing of the state’s fastest-growing technology firms based on revenue expansion in the past five years.

This year’s roster shows how far New Mexico’s technology sector has come since the recession in 2009. Taken together, the honorees reported a collective 14 percent jump in revenue over the past five years, from $780.3 million in 2009 to $889.3 million last year. Employment at those firms also grew by 11 percent, from 3,528 to 3,929.

FREISINGER: "Things are clearly improving"

FREISINGER: “Things are clearly improving”

“Things are clearly improving,” said John Freisinger, president and CEO of Technology Ventures Corp., which hosts the program. “There aren’t that many radical changes on the list, but we’re seeing solid growth across the board in small double-digit numbers in revenue and employees.”

The annual listing, now in its 17th year, aims to celebrate technology entrepreneurs and the contribution they make to New Mexico’s economy.

TVC and five other sponsors, including the Journal‘s Business Outlook, will honor the Flying 40 winners at a luncheon and awards ceremony on Wednesday at the University of New Mexico Soccer Indoor Practice Facility. Apart from the 32 being recognized for revenue growth, 13 others will receive Falcon Awards, which are honorable mentions for companies that are close to qualifying for the Flying 40.

Nearing a milestone

“We continue to do this every year to celebrate all the successes we’ve had in New Mexico,” Freisinger said. “The Flying 40 shows what we hope will happen to every company when it gets the technical assistance and funding it needs to grow and succeed.”

In fact, with the collective revenue of this year’s roster nearing $900 million, Freisinger said the Flying 40 is approaching a milestone.

“It’s getting close to $1 billion in revenue represented by these companies,” he said. “When we started this annual event we were hoping to find $400 million or $500 million in revenue among them. That we’re approaching the $1 billion mark is quite significant in terms of how the high-tech industry in New Mexico has grown.”

Many of the companies on the 2014 list are repeat honorees who make the Flying 40 year after year, such as engineering behemoths Applied Research Associates and Los Alamos Technology Associates, with $214 million and $112 million in revenue in 2013, respectively.

But a host of new technology startups, many of which launched in the heart of the recession in 2009, also joined the list this year.

New companies joining

“We have a number of companies that we hadn’t even heard of before,” said TVC Chief Financial Officer Bob McCarty. “To have new companies showing solid growth is exciting, because we went through some tough times when the economy crashed.”

The honorees are divided into three categories: Top revenue-producing companies; revenue-growth companies with above $10 million annually; and top revenue-growth companies with below $10 million annually.

This year’s top honor goes to Innovative Technology Partnerships LLC, which provides strategic planning, training and technology-related services to the Department of Energy and other federal agencies. It’s the second year in a row that ITP has headed the list of companies with above $10 million in annual income. Its revenue grew by 294 percent in the past five years, from about $5 million in 2009 to $19.94 million last year.

ITP’s continued success shows that, despite cutbacks in government spending, state firms that compete for contracts with federal agencies are still managing to grow and succeed, Freisinger said.

This year’s awards ceremony will feature a soccer theme in recognition of the UNM men’s soccer team making it to the Final Four in the NCAA Tournament last year. With the World Cup being held in Brazil, the lunch will feature a Brazilian food theme. All honorees will be invited to attempt a goal kick one-on-one against a goalie, and each Flying 40 company will receive a soccer ball signed by the entire UNM soccer team and mounted on a gold cup.

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