Arrowhead Center CEO working to extend innovation hub’s reach statewide

NMSUnews: Kathy Hansen: Arrowhead Center CEO


Published on Jan 10, 2014

Since becoming the Arrowhead Center’s director and CEO in July, Kathy Hansen has helped shape the innovation hub’s mission to boost economic development in the region and across the state.

January 13, 2014 by Amanda Bradford, NMSU News Center

Kathy Hansen is the director and chief executive officer at New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

Kathy Hansen is the director and chief executive officer at New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

Kathy Hansen has spent the last six months leading New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center through a period of continued expansion and transition. Since becoming the center’s director and chief executive officer in July, she’s helped shape the innovation hub’s mission to boost economic development in the region and across the state.

But that’s nothing new for Hansen – or Arrowhead Center, for that matter. The center is a work in progress, constantly developing as it adds resources and expands its outreach. Hansen has been part of that work – initially serving as its chief operating officer – since she helped found it in 2004.

“Arrowhead really got its start out of the business college, through Garrey Carruthers, who was the dean then,” Hansen explained. “But our intention from the beginning was to be a university-wide endeavor. One of my top goals in my new role is to continue to strengthen our relationship with each of the colleges and research units on campus, because innovation and discovery can happen in any discipline.”

Another focus for Hansen will be developing Arrowhead Center into a regional hub for technology commercialization.

Arrowhead received a five-year grant in September from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration that will be used to identify gaps in the regional commercialization ecosystem and create programs that increase statewide participation in commercialization efforts, accelerate innovation and increase the number of business start-ups.

Hansen will focus on building on the center’s current commercialization offerings and expanding its outreach to urban and rural communities across the state. Arrowhead is currently the only EDA University Center in New Mexico, and Hansen said there’s a need in the state for the kind of higher-paying jobs that innovation-driven business can provide.

“We are welcoming commercialization projects from around the state,” she said. “As a land-grant institution, we are serving the whole state, and we want to see where we can have the most impact.

“Our focus has been and will continue to be primarily on technology commercialization,” she continued. “We want to make sure we add value, and we’re not redundant with other economic development organizations in the state.”

Arrowhead Center offers programs that support innovation in many ways. The Arrowhead Technology Incubator provides technology-based companies connections to the resources they need to grow into thriving, sustainable ventures. The Entrepreneurship Institute assists entrepreneurs and small business startups and expansions, providing resources that will help them reach the next stage in their ventures. The Office of Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer works with the NMSU community to manage, protect and commercialize creative products developed at the university. And the Office of Policy Analysis reports on current economic trends and policy issues in the State of New Mexico and surrounding regions, producing accurate, timely data for decision-makers and the general public.

For faculty and other university researchers, there’s also Launch, Arrowhead Center’s program for finding, funding and supporting early-stage, commercially promising technologies developed at NMSU. Students and recent graduates can develop their entrepreneurial ideas through Studio G, Arrowhead’s student incubator.

“We’re trying to turn the research park into a hub that supports the university’s innovation and discovery – and regional economic development,” Hansen said.

Kevin Boberg, NMSU’s vice president for economic development, served as Arrowhead’s CEO before Hansen took over this summer. He said her leadership since the center’s inception has been one of the keys to its continued growth.

“Much of the center’s success to date is attributable to her insight and dedication,” he said. “Ms. Hansen now brings all that experience and education to the position as CEO, assuring that Arrowhead will continue to not only have a role, but an even more ambitious role, in economic development – for the benefit of students, faculty and the state.”

Carruthers, who is now NMSU’s president and also serves on Arrowhead’s board of directors, said he expects Arrowhead Center to be an important resource as the state’s leaders seek additional ways to boost economic development and create jobs in high-tech fields.

“Kathy Hansen is the glue that holds Arrowhead Center together,” Carruthers said. “She’s really been an outstanding manager and strategic planner. She’s going to continue to be a difference-maker in the region’s economic development.”

Hansen said she’s looking forward to the challenge.

“We’ve identified the stakeholders that we’re working with, what we’re doing with them currently, and how we’re going to expand on it,” she said. “In short, we’re collaborating – and we have been from the beginning.”

Hansen enjoys a challenge outside the office, too. She keeps active by swimming and running half marathons.

Hansen has served NMSU for more than 25 years in several positions, including chief operations officer of Arrowhead Center, co-director of the Aerospace and Autonomous Systems Laboratory and business development director for the Physical Science Laboratory. Hansen has served on the board and as an officer of several nonprofit corporations, including the Science Education Alliance Inc. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sociology and political science from the University of Texas at El Paso.

Hansen and her husband, Harry, have two children, Megan and Jack.

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