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UNM teams up with Venture firm on tech transfer

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — More early-stage capital may soon become available for startups marketing University of New Mexico technology thanks to a new agreement between UNM and Osage Venture Partners.

Osage is a Pennsylvania-based venture capital firm with some of its funds specifically earmarked for investments in university technologies. Osage has agreements in place with some 70 universities, including major research institutions like Harvard, John Hopkins and Princeton.

UNM is now an official partner in the network, paving the way for potential Osage investment in UNM startups with technology in many fields, including energy, information technology, biopharma, and medical devices and diagnostics.

“It’s a national venture fund that works directly with universities through special partnerships,” said Lisa Kuuttila, president and CEO of the Science and Technology Corp., UNM’s tech-transfer office. “UNM was just added to the partner list and they’re looking at all of our startups now.”

Osage may be interested in some startups launched by the New Mexico Angels through its Startup Factory, which specifically markets technology from UNM.

“We’ve spoken with them about telecommunications and pharmaceutical technology that we’re developing,” said Angels President John Chavez. “They’re very interested in both areas.”

The partnership could help bring more capital to startups in the critical early stages of development when new companies have gone beyond proof of concept but have yet to reach the level of development needed to attract larger rounds of capital, Kuuttila said.

Osage typically invests up to $5 to $10 million in venture deals, including commitments at the seed and early stage, and in later stages to provide growth capital. To date, Osage has invested in at least 45 companies.

Universities in its partner network also gain access to “Osage Connect,” a networking assistance program that links university personnel and university-related startups to technology experts and investors.

“We are mission-driven to see university startups get funded and succeed,” reads the Osage website. “Even when we are not an investor, we actively encourage investments in university startups.”

Osage directors could not be reached directly by the Journal for comment.

Given the difficulty in accessing venture capital in New Mexico, the Osage partnership could be particularly advantageous, Kuuttila said.

“It could bring more money into startups at the critical early and later stages,” Kuuttila said. “And Osage is not interested in moving startups out of state, which is very important for us.”

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