NMSU’s Arrowhead Center receives grant to expand student entrepreneur opportunities

February 18, 2016 by Darrell J. Pehr, NMSU News Center

A program that promotes student entrepreneurship at New Mexico State University will receive $368,760 from the U.S. Department of Commerce to expand the program to the university’s community colleges.

NMSU is one of the 25 awardees that will receive funding under the Economic Development Administration’s 2015 Regional Innovation Strategies program. The 2015 RIS program is managed by EDA’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship and is designed to advance innovation and capacity-building activities in regions across the country through two competitions: the i6 Challenge and the Seed Fund Support Grants competition.

Arrowhead Center submitted a proposal for “Next Gen,” the Next Generation Entrepreneurship program. Next Gen expands current student entrepreneurship programming supported by the Arrowhead Innovation Network, a 2012 i6 Challenge project that ended in September. Next Gen is focused on student entrepreneurship as a strategy to enhance commercialization of research, regional connectivity and innovation.

Next Gen will take student entrepreneurship programming developed on NMSU’s main campus to the university’s community colleges in Alamogordo, Carlsbad and Grants, as well as Dona Ana Community College in Las Cruces.

“This project will leverage three significant regional assets,” said Kathy Hansen, director of Arrowhead Center. These include Studio G, Arrowhead’s student and alumni business incubator, which serves student entrepreneurs commercializing their own ideas and NMSU/national laboratory-developed intellectual research products; the large pool of potential student entrepreneurs situated throughout the NMSU system; and the Arrowhead Innovation Network, which supports Launch, Arrowhead’s proof of concept center, with its established base of expertise, collaborative partnerships, and investment/funding.

“Scaling existing programming to ensure a robust pipeline of next-generation entrepreneurs ready to focus on high-growth entrepreneurship and technology commercialization will position Arrowhead to continue its positive impacts on regional economic development,” Hansen said.

Arrowhead provides a holistic approach to regional economic development, with established programs and resources in business creation and incubation; technical assistance; entrepreneurial education and training; proof of concept; and technology commercialization.

“Bringing Studio G to NMSU’s branch campuses is an outstanding opportunity to expand Arrowhead’s impact throughout the state. Studio G now works with over 150 student entrepreneurs at NMSU’s main campus and we’re excited the i6 award will allow us to help more students start businesses in New Mexico,” said Studio G Director and Principal Investigator Kramer Winingham.

Serving as co-PI is Robert Macy, holder of the Bill and Sharon Sheriff Chair in Entrepreneurship in the College of Business at NMSU.

“This grant will allow us to push student entrepreneurship to a much wider audience,” Macy said. “Students are more likely to go for the fences as they have a much higher risk tolerance than most. This means that a venture that an older person may never try to launch, as they have ‘too much to lose,’ can be pushed by a student entrepreneur. Young entrepreneurs can do amazing things as they do not know what is ‘impossible’ yet, and so they do the impossible.”

Hansen said Arrowhead’s experienced personnel, along with the connections and expertise available through the Arrowhead Innovation Network, are key drivers and will set the stage for successful execution of this project. Sustainment of the project will be achieved through a multifaceted approach of university system support, commercialization revenue, program donors and access to investment networks for venture follow-on funding.

“Next Gen will impact the region and service area through jobs created and retained, new businesses registered, private investment in businesses, progress of ventures through the commercialization pathway, events held and new products launched by participants,” Hansen said.


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