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UNM Innovation Academy, Creative Startups, and STC Team Up to Win Mayor’s Prize Award

A collaborative program created by UNM’s Innovation Academy, local accelerator Creative Startups, and STC.UNM has been awarded a $50,000 grant from the Mayor’s Prize competition.   The Mayor’s Prize, a permanently endowed fund established with funds from the Kauffman Foundation and the Albuquerque Community Foundation in 2015, awarded four grants to local entrepreneurial programs focused on helping aspiring inventors and entrepreneurs across a broad spectrum of groups, ranging from students at UNM and CNM to minority entrepreneurs looking for sources of nontraditional lending and innovators in the arts.  The three other awardees included CNM’s Ingenuity program, Nusenda Credit Union’s Co-Op Capital program, and business incubator WESST’s Creative Practice, Innovation and Enterprise program.

The collaboration will fund a project called the Lobo Launch Labs to help entrepreneurial students majoring in creative disciplines such as design, architecture, film, animation, media, music, advertising, fine arts, launch businesses in New Mexico.  Students at the University of New Mexico and other higher education institutions in the state will be eligible for the program.  The goal is to develop a pipeline of these students who will grow their new creative businesses in Albuquerque, alongside the technology inspired businesses already establishing roots in the community.  These future entrepreneurs will contribute to the growing creative economy in New Mexico, reflecting a national growth rate for the creative economy that is growing faster than any other economic sector.   More than half of the students participating in the Innovation Academy are pursuing creative majors.

Lobo Launch Labs will be a 16-week, boot camp-style program of classes, mentorship connections, and guest faculty who are experienced entrepreneurs.  The curriculum will be designed by Creative Startups with recruitment, facility and departmental support provided by the Innovation Academy and tech transfer and intellectual property management provided by STC.UNM.

For more information on the awards see Kevin Robinson-Avila’s November 11, 2016 article, “Four share Mayor’s Prize,” from the Albuquerque Journal, reprinted below, and  Christopher Ortiz’ November 11, 2016 article, “See who racked up $200K in grants from Mayor’s Prize for Entrepreneurship,” from Albuquerque Business First, at  http://www.bizjournals.com/albuquerque/news/2016/11/11/see-who-racked-up-200k-in-grants-frommayors-prize.html.

For more information on the Innovation Academy, visit http://innovationacademy.unm.edu/.   For more information on Creative Startups, visit http://creativestartups.org/.

Four share Mayor’s Prize

By Kevin Robinson-Avila / Journal Staff Writer
Thursday, November 10th, 2016 at 5:55pm

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Four local businesses and organizations won a total of $200,000 in grants on Thursday evening through the second annual Mayor’s Prize for entrepreneurship.

The prize, funded by the Albuquerque Community Foundation and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, was launched last year to support local organizations that help build grass-roots innovation and entrepreneurship.

A panel of local and out-of-state judges chose nine finalists this year from 16 organizations that applied for the Mayor’s Prize. Awards went to four of them, including $59,000 for Central New Mexico Community College’s CNM Ingenuity program, $50,000 for the Creative Startups business accelerator, $50,000 for the Nusenda Credit Union Foundation’s Co-Op Capital Program, and $41,000 for the WESST business incubator’s Creative Practice, Innovation and Enterprise program.

The grants will reinforce initiatives that provide resources, training, mentorship and other assistance to aspiring entrepreneurs and startups in Albuquerque, said Mayor Berry before announcing the awards at a ceremony Downtown.

“We want to give people the opportunity to be economically mobile, to prosper in our community,” Berry said. “We want to provide the tools and resources they need to be self-reliant innovators.”

Recipients will use the grants to expand their programs:

CNM Ingenuity will make its FUSE Makerspace available to more innovators and entrepreneurs.

Creative Startups will devote its funds to its forthcoming Lobo Launch Labs, which offers 16-week entrepreneurial boot camps for students who want to commercialize novel technology or ideas but who need more preparation to move forward.

Nusenda will pump more funds into Co-Op Capital, which allows minority entrepreneurs who face difficulty accessing traditional lending sources to receive loans that are sponsored by community organizations.

WEST, which also won an $85,000 grant in the first Mayor’s Prize awards last year, will expand a program it launched with the 2015 award to assist creative businesses.

The Kauffman Foundation made a $200,000 donation last year for the Mayor’s Prize.  The Albuquerque Community Foundation matched the Kauffman money to turn the funding into a permanent endowment to continue awarding grants every year.