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Santa Fe incubator a national ‘success story’

SANTA FE, N.M. — The U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration has chosen the Santa Fe Business Incubator as one of its national “success stories.”

The incubator, which launched in December 1997, received two EDA grants over the years. That includes a $2.3 million award in 1999 to help the incubator expand from 10,000 to 30,000 square feet, and a $1.25 million award in 2011 that allowed it to build and equip a wet lab for life science startups.

To date, the incubator has helped entrepreneurs launch about 150 businesses, creating more than 1,000 direct jobs, the EDA said in an online story about the incubator’s achievements. It’s one of a select group of “success stories” featured on the EDA’s national website in March.

Incubator President and CEO Marie Longserre said EDA support helped build the program into a sustainable assistance center for local startups. The incubator currently houses 16 businesses and provides support services to many more.

“We’re close to reaching our 20th anniversary, and I’m very pleased  with what we’ve accomplished,” Longserre said. “I’m delighted that the EDA chose us as one of its success stories among the thousands of projects it supports nationwide.”

The wet lab has provided a particularly effective boost to life science startups, which account for about one-third of businesses working at the incubator. The lab includes a lot of core equipment, such as an autoclave, a centrifuge for mixing, an incubator for cultures, biosafety cabinets, refrigerators and an ultra-low-temperature freezer. It also includes some pricey, specialized tools, such as an acoustic cytometer, or cell meter.

That allows biotech companies to do needed research and development without huge capital investments, while boosting their ability to attract funding, Longserre said. In 2015 alone, the incubator’s biotech companies raised $6.5 million in capital.

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The incubator also serves information technology and software companies, advanced manufacturing startups and service-oriented businesses.

The incubator helped grow ITConnect — an IT services company for commercial, educational and government clients — from a three-person startup into a 50-employee company with operations in four states, said founder Kareem Edwards.

“The (incubator) programs and services combined with flexible space helped my company immensely,” Edwards said in a statement.

EcoPesticides chief technology officer Steve Miller said his company, which is marketing technology to improve the ability of natural organisms to kill agricultural pests, said his company wouldn’t exist without the Santa Fe Incubator.

“The incubator helped EcoPesticides lower the risk and capital requirements that can kill early-stage startups,” Miller said.

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