UNM regents to consider investing in high-tech hub

December 1, 2013 • State News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An effort to est[auth] ablish a high-tech research and development center in downtown Albuquerque could get an infusion of cash depending on what the University of New Mexico’s Board of Regents decides.

The regents will review proposals to invest $13 million in the Innovate ABQ initiative during a special meeting Friday. It will be their first opportunity to fully vet the project.

It is modeled on a similar technology jobs “ecosystem” around the University of Florida in Gainesville.

A financial breakdown obtained by the Albuquerque Journal ( shows UNM administrators want to acquire two separate properties as part of the initiative, including a downtown church and the Aperture Center at Mesa del Sol, south of the city.

To date, UNM has received promises for $6.5 million in outside funding for Innovate ABQ, which would be used to acquire the First Baptist Church site.

All remaining funds for buying the Aperture Center, plus related building improvements and site planning, would come from the UNM Foundation, said Lisa Kuuttila, UNM chief economic development officer and head of UNM’s Science and Technology Corp.

The plans say Innovate ABQ would launch at the Aperture Center while the downtown site is constructed. UNM’s Science and Technology Corp. would locate its operations there, along with technology transfer staff from other research universities and national laboratories, making it easy for investors to acquire intellectual property to commercialize new technologies.

Board of Regents President Jack Fortner said the upcoming special meeting will provide an opportunity to ask questions about the project. The matter could go before the full board later this month.

Apart from property acquisition and financials, regents will also review proposed legal structures for Innovate ABQ, plus plans to bring private investors into the project.

The Science and Technology Corp. will create its own single-member limited liability company to oversee technology transfer through Innovate ABQ. It also proposes to form a nonprofit corporation to administer the Innovate ABQ Downtown site together with public- and private-sector partners.

The university expects to attract private developers to build out the downtown property in phases. Eventually, that would include research laboratories, office buildings, residential housing for students and entrepreneurs, parking and retail businesses.

“Once we’ve secured the site and developed the master plan, we’ll then reach out to private developers,” Kuuttila said. “A number of New Mexico and out-of-state developers have already approached us expressing strong interest.”

Fortner praised the project’s goal of using public money to leverage private investment.

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