NMSU’s Arrowhead Center, which manages the university’s technology transfer programs, launched TechSprint this month to expand its assistance to people around the state. That includes access to funding opportunities offered by the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps Program.
As an iCorps program site, Arrowhead has offered $2,000 grants to all participants in its accelerator programs, financed with a $300,000 NSF award it received last year. Program graduates have also been eligible to apply for national NSF grants of up to $50,000 with help from NMSU mentors.
Until now, that assistance was limited to faculty, staff, students and alumni connected to Arrowhead. But through TechSprint, those benefits will now become available to startups and entrepreneurs statewide, said Kramer Winingham, executive director of Studio G, Arrowhead’s student-focused business incubator.
“We’re opening up our NSF iCorps site to basically anyone in the state who qualifies to participate in the TechSprint program, regardless of their affiliation with the university,” Winingham said.
Arrowhead is financing the TechSprint program through a $200,000 grant it received in December from Emera Inc., the Canadian firm that acquired New Mexico Gas Co. last summer.
“We’re using about $90,000 of the New Mexico Gas grant to finance three different accelerator cohorts of up to 10 participants each, or about $30,000 per cohort,” said Arrowhead Director Kathryn Hansen.
The first TechSprint cohort will include startups and innovators looking to take new technologies to market. It will offer online training, mentoring and coaching from March 31 to April 28, with four two-hour sessions each week, Winingham said.
“We’ll provide training to help participants figure out if their business idea is viable,” he said. “They’ll learn business basics and do customer validation for their ideas.”
Those who successfully complete the program will become eligible to apply for national NSF grants with NMSU assistance, Winingham said.
The next two accelerator cohorts won’t focus on technology, but rather, on export-related businesses, Hansen said. Those programs, dubbed ExportSprints, will include a summer cohort for anyone around the state, and a fall cohort for people connected to NMSU.
Applications for TechSprint will be accepted through March 12. For more information, visit arrowheadcenter.nmsu.edu/techsprint.