Tech Transfer eNews Blog

U of New Mexico investment fund helps start-ups attract more capital by matching with private investors

By David Schwartz
Published: February 25th, 2015

A $1 million fund managed by the University of New Mexico (UNM) Foundation has invested $498,000 into four start-ups that are working to take UNM technologies to market.

The fund allows UNM’s tech transfer arm, Science and Technology Corp. (STC), to propose direct investments in university start-ups on a one-for-one matching basis with private investors who are interested in the UNM companies.

“With the matching funds, it’s over $1 million that has gone into those companies, some of which are now raising larger rounds of capital,” says STC president and CEO Lisa Kuuttila. “UNM’s backing helps them to attract funding from other investors, and it helps them leverage the money they have on hand to continue commercializing technologies.”

STC’s investments include a $100,000 commitment to Pajarito Power and its novel fuel cell technology developed at UNM, and $89,000 toward EcoPesticides International, which is working on a way to enhance the ability of fungus and other natural organisms to kill agricultural pests.

Until now, UNM could only provide small grants of up to $25,000 for commercially minded research before it was developed for the market. Now with the recent fund, investments can reach up to $100,000 for each start-up, with approval from a co-investment committee that STC and the UNM Foundation have set up to review applications.

“It tells investors that UNM stands behind its technology transfer efforts and that they’re willing to have skin in the game,” says John Chavez, president of the New Mexico Angels. “And for small start-up companies, $100,000 can be a significant sum to help them continue basic research and development to prove a technology concept.”

Les Stewart, president and CEO of EcoPesticides, comments, “UNM’s backing gave us a boost in raising capital among other investors, and we’ve used the money to move into a commercial setting in Santa Fe.”

UNM’s investment has helped EcoPesticides raise a total of $400,000, including over $300,000 from angels and a private equity fund in Las Vegas. Now, Albuquerque-based startup Zocere Inc., which is developing a treatment to protect brain cells against strokes, is raising $100,000 from the New Mexico Angels and is anticipating a $100,000 match from UNM.

“Another $200,000 is not a lot for a drug development company, but it buys us more time to move our product through development as we continue to raise money for toxicology and other pre-clinical studies,” says Zocere president and CEO Wayne Laslie.

Source: Albuquerque Journal

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