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NM innovations pique companies’ interest

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A novel, sustainable construction material made from recycled paper and cardboard piqued the interest of at least one new-technology scout Tuesday morning at the Innovate New Mexico Technology Showcase in Albuquerque.

Nakayama Kazunori of Japan’s Shimizu Corp. said his company — which manages construction, architecture and engineering services –— can see using the material in low-cost sustainable housing or disaster prevention and recovery infrastructure, such as containment walls to protect against tsunamis like the one that battered Japan in 2010.

Nakayama Kazunori of Japan’s Shimizu Corp

Nakayama Kazunori of Japan’s Shimizu Corp

The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro, which is commercializing the material, presented it to showcase participants as a low-cost alternative to things like concrete or adobe that can reduce landfill waste.

“It’s an innovative material that could address our core business operations by introducing sustainability in building construction,” Kazunori said. “There’s a growing market for that type of thing. I could see many applications for it.”

Kazunori was one of nearly 250 local, national and international investors, entrepreneurs and technology transfer professionals who attended the showcase at Sandia Casino’s Golf Club event center. It’s the second such technology showcase this year by Innovate New Mexico, a new umbrella group set up to collectively coordinate technology commercialization efforts by the state’s three research universities and national laboratories.

“People are starting to see the value of working together to showcase our state assets,” said Lisa Kuuttila, the University of New Mexico’s chief economic development officer and head of the Science and Technology Corp., UNM’s tech-transfer office. “It benefits everyone.”

The event included fifteen-minute presentations by scientists and engineers with new technologies from UNM, New Mexico Tech and New Mexico State University, and from Sandia National Laboratories, Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base. Presenters discussed a dozen different inventions, such as novel technical designs for microwave antennas to probe deeper into space, changes in lens and laser configurations for optical microscopes to view things more clearly in the nano-realm, a novel coding for secure communications, and non-invasive diagnostics for infectious disease.

Barbara Brazil, deputy secretary of the state Economic Development Department, said the showcase brings together the best and the brightest “idea-and-product creators” from the state’s labs and research universities.

“We possess a dizzying array of ideas, research, intellectual property and resources,” Brazil said. “The showcase brings attention to the tremendous potential within our ecosystem and strives to turn ideas born here into enterprise.”

Kazunori said New Mexico is smart to promote its technology collectively as a state.

“This is a great place for research and development in many fields,” he said. “That’s why we’re here. We’re looking for new business opportunities.”

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