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Home | Tag Archives: New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center

Tag Archives: New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center

Arrowhead Center Leverages Hunt Gift to build Borderplex Entrepreneurship Ecosystem

In just its second year of operation, the Hunt Center for Entrepreneurship, housed at New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center, has made significant strides in strengthening the region’s entrepreneurial pipeline by focusing on the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs, developing exciting new technologies, and forging partnerships that benefit the Borderland.

“We’re so pleased with the progress made through the Hunt Center thus far and look forward to continuing the key initiatives underway, while continuing to seek avenues for expansion,” said Arrowhead Center Director Kathy Hansen.

The Hunt Center was created through a $2.5 million gift provided by the Hunt Family Foundation as part of NMSU’s Ignite Aggie Discovery $125 million comprehensive fundraising campaign.

The funding has helped advance three key programs at Arrowhead Center: the Hunt Student Startup Sponsorships, the Innoventure youth entrepreneurship program for K-12 students, and the LAUNCH technology and business development accelerator and competition.

Hunt Student Startup Sponsorships provide semester-long employment to allow selected student entrepreneurs time to work on their ventures during the academic semesters. Sponsored students receive entrepreneurial training and business development services through Studio G, Arrowhead Center’s student business accelerator program.

“Hunt Sponsorships provide a tremendous opportunity to accelerate student entrepreneurs in our Studio G program,” said Kramer Winingham, director of Studio G. “The program gives students the support and guidance to move their business forward rapidly in just one semester.”

Hunt-sponsored students have focused on a range of products and services, from gyroscope technology to retail fashion to a mobile app helping university students learn to navigate their campuses.

“Thanks to the Hunt Startup Sponsorship, I was able to turn my idea into a minimum viable product,” said Alexis Cornidez, an NMSU senior majoring in individualized studies with a concentration in engineering, economics and management. Cornidez received a sponsorship to work on his business, Maslow, a mobile application that connects college students and supports local economies. “It allowed me to focus not only my time, but my effort toward accomplishing my goals,” he added.

The Innoventure suite of K-12 entrepreneurship education programs from Arrowhead Center has also enjoyed new opportunities through Arrowhead’s relationship with the Hunt Family Foundation, for the first time delivering programming outside of New Mexico.

Community members use the common area at CoWork Oasis in El Paso to collaborate on a project. Arrowhead Center has partnered with CoWork Oasis to help expand the regional reach and resources that both programs offer to entrepreneurs and industry in the Borderplex | Courtesy NMSU

Camp Innoventure, a week-long camp where middle school students get to brainstorm business ideas, put together a business model and create a product to sell at a local market, partnered with the El Paso-based Success Through Technology Education Foundation to bring sessions to schools in El Paso and Tornillo, Texas.

“We had 22 students participate in three camps across El Paso, which we couldn’t have done without the generous financial support from the STTE Foundation and the Hunt Center,” said Innoventure Deputy Director Lydia Hammond, who leads the Camp Innoventure program. “We’re also extremely grateful to our amazing teachers, who led the program at each location and made these camp experiences even more special for our students.”

LAUNCH, Arrowhead Center’s annual accelerator and competition in which teams take NMSU-developed innovations through an intensive four-month program of technology and market validation, is also reaping the benefits of affiliation with the Hunt Center. With Hunt Center support, both the initial investments in participants’ ventures and the award to the overall winner have been bolstered, allowing teams to push the envelope on the new businesses based on the technologies they explore.

“The Hunt Center sponsorship of LAUNCH has been a game-changer, in terms of the amount of resources we’re able to provide promising teams,” Hansen said. “It also allows our winning team the funds they need to take the next steps after the competition.”

Three of the five finalist teams from the most recent round of LAUNCH are in talks with potential industry partners who may license team technologies or determine other ways to collaborate on development.

This year’s winning team, which is seeking to commercialize a novel liner for prosthetic limbs that increase comfort and safety for wearers, has continued to move forward on their project.

“LAUNCH helped me to break the ice, get out of the building, and talk to people,” said team member Neda Sanatkaran, a post-doctoral researcher in NMSU’s Chemical Engineering Department.

These and other Hunt Center programs are also bolstered by a partnership with the CoWork Oasis, an El Paso-based community workspace that provides local entrepreneurs access to tools, mentorship and funding opportunities. CoWork Oasis stages workshops and events to educate entrepreneurs and provide them opportunities to network with fellow creators and others in the community.

With 85 community members at CoWork, the network is growing and the program’s model is being validated. The CoWork Oasis-Hunt Center collaboration is ensuring that Arrowhead Center programs have a regional reach, as well as bringing to each organization the best assets its respective city has to offer.

“Our commitment to Arrowhead Center demonstrates the critical role we know entrepreneurship plays as an economic driver in the Borderplex region,” said Josh Hunt, president of the Hunt Family Foundation. “We are proud to see our investment hard at work to move initiatives forward in support of programs, innovation and successful partnerships. We applaud the ongoing efforts of the team at the Hunt Center for Entrepreneurship.”

Hansen notes that Arrowhead Center will continue to find new ways to expand existing programs, and to explore others that will help clients continue to advance their entrepreneurial journeys.

“We’re not done yet,” Hansen said. “One of the greatest strengths of the Hunt Center is its ability to leverage collaboration among regional players. We have so many great people and groups working on economic development in the Borderplex, and the Hunt Center is a perfect venue to collaborate on that endeavor.”

Author: Amanda Bradford – NMSU

NM FAST Entrepreneur Works to Combat Fraud in Native American Art Market

It’s not hard to call up images from memory – or Google – of New Mexico jewelry. Zia symbols, squash blossoms, Zuni needlepoint, thick waves of Navajo silverwork, and exquisite sterling and turquoise cabochons the size of ripe fruit abound.

For decades, these iconic Native American cultural treasures have shaped the landscape of the state’’s aesthetic and provided value to artists and buyers alike.

However, an investigation into a complicated web of fraud in the Native American art market has brought to light the extent of exploitation of Native American artists and designs. Just this month, National Geographic Digital reported that a well-known Albuquerque business owner pleaded guilty to two felony counts for violating the Indian Arts and Crafts Act by “importing into the U.S. contraband jewelry worth $11,800,000 in wholesale value between October 2010 and October 2015.”

Propelled by his inimitable background as a working artist and professional designer, entrepreneur Roy Montibon is working to combat this problem. He knows it will take decades to solve, so in the process he also wants to raise awareness of the issue so artists can protect their work and livelihoods.

Montibon Provenance International’s mission is to transform the global art market with comprehensive, one-of-a-kind solutions that leverage unique scientific and technological discoveries to significantly reduce risk, threats and expense. The innovative technology is not bound by particular markets; rather, it offers a timely and innovative approach that spans the arts and antiquities market, contemporary art market, and Native American art market, as well as the artists and buyers in these markets.

“Fraud is also an economic issue,” Montibon said. “Part of what we’re doing by protecting both artists and buyers has an economic benefit. It will eventually raise the value of the work in the market.”

MPI’s technology protects artifacts of all media, including but not limited to weavings, paintings, jewelry, sculpture and rare books.

MPI lessens the risk and increases confidence for collectors of arts and antiquities.

The company also provides tools to law enforcement for investigations and prosecutions, as well as establishes admissible evidence for court cases. MPI developed a method of identifying and tracking chain-of-custody for a work of art with documentation that cannot be forged. This is a huge step forward, as gallery certificates that currently come with purchased objects are easily forged or counterfeited.

Programs in New Mexico designed to support New Mexico entrepreneurs have been key to the development of Montibon’s technology. The New Mexico Federal and State Technology Partnership program (NM FAST) at New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center, funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration, is helping him pursue a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award to support MPI’s development of a comprehensive system for provenance, cybersecurity and archiving.

Montibon has also been involved with Arrowhead’s Tech Sprint program, sponsored by the U.S. Economic Development Administration University Center for Regional Commercialization and the New Mexico Gas Company, as well as the New Mexico Small Business Assistance program, which connected him with scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

With the help from NM FAST, Montibon is now applying for a Department of Defense SBIR award after meeting with Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) representatives at NM FAST’s Innovation Summit, held in Albuquerque in December 2017. NAVSEA has an interest in solving immediate counterfeiting problems.

Through his work, Montibon was startled to realize that some people willingly buy or order counterfeit merchandise. He insists that it crosses economic boundaries, that even wealthy individuals are happy to buy fakes.

“This situation is mind-blowingly unethical and is why part of my mission is to educate buyers in the ways their actions may harm real people and perpetuate poverty,” Montibon said, explaining that fraud, forgery, theft and counterfeit documentation are separate yet intersecting issues.

Unscrupulous dealers visit artists on reservations and buy up hand-hewn jewelry for as little as $10 per piece, which Montibon says is not an exaggeration. The artist, paid such an exploitative price, will use that much-needed money for living expenses. The dealer then sells the rings online or at shows for, – $200, $300 or $400. – Though not technically illegal, the cycle means these vulnerable artists will never get out of poverty.

“It is similar to the situation of piece rate workers in third-world garment factories,” Montibon said. “But it’s not happening in a third-world country, it’s happening here. For multiple reasons, many tribes tend to not pursue fraud cases, and do not usually follow up with a civil suit.”

Thieves and fraudsters know this vulnerability and perpetuate it. Without the usual risk of high dollar lawsuits, law enforcement attention, or bad press, Native artists make for a juicy target. Montibon equates the situation to the way U.S. banks were easy targets for robbers before the advent of extensive security measures. His technology encircles objects with layers of extensive security and provenance.

MPI directly ties secured documentation to the object and offers extreme privacy for seller and owners in the highly secretive art world, where buyers often have purchasers to stand for them at auction. Montibon honors this anonymity with his work in cybersecurity.

He notes that artificial intelligence will identify patterns and break traditional encryption methods quickly, which poses a massive security risk for everything from trade secrets to medical records. MPI’s method is not dependent on public/private keys or traditional encryption algorithms. Instead, the process requires cultural, not just mathematical knowledge.

“It’s closer to the Rosetta Stone than common encryption methods. The Greek, plus hieroglyphic and demotic Egyptian script has taken researchers and hobby code-breakers decades to decode. Our process is simple, but will be very hard to break, and utilizes long-term data archiving that will not be written to common digital storage media,” Montibon said.

MPI is currently for-profit, working with contemporary artists and collectors to provide a financial base. But the question persists for Montibon – how do we help the most exploited?

MPI is grounded in social entrepreneurship. In the future he will expand with a non-profit arm, or public benefit corporation funded by industry partners to provide services at low or no cost to the most impoverished Native American and indigenous artists. Montibon is not interested in business solely to make money, but rather is committed to a model that does social good.

The Santa Fe Indian Market, produced by the nonprofit organization Southwestern Association for Indian Arts and held weekly at the Palace of the Governors, provides a setting to mitigate fraud, as consumers purchase directly from artists on the Plaza. This setting also offers a chance for artists to educate buyers on their work. Montibon champions this type of direct market and hopes in the future, the same level of integrity can be preserved through other outlets.

He maintains that educating artisans with a campaign that provides assistance in marketing, promotion, and other entrepreneurial support would also bolster efforts to raise awareness.

NM FAST has expanded its reach in assisting native populations with these business aspects. The program is currently collaborating with the Navajo Tech Innovation Center, and national organization theIndependent Native American Intellectual Property Enterprise Council, a non-profit organization “whose sole purpose is to provide direct help and assistance to Native American inventors.”

A SBIR workshop at the Navajo Tech Innovation Center in June will be tailored for the community, and educate attendees on the resources and programs available to them. NM FAST also has an extensive library of resources, such as a video series on its YouTube channel and proposal development documents that provide access to entrepreneurs throughout New Mexico.

An act recently introduced by New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich and co-sponsored by New Mexico Senator Tom Udall, ‘Safeguarding Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act of 2017,’ has received bipartisan support but still needs to be passed through the Senate, and ultimately signed by the President.

“As a New Mexico entrepreneur, the assistance we’ve received, and continue to receive, from Dana Catron’s team at Arrowhead Center has been invaluable,” Montibon said. “Starting up a new business here can be a challenge, but the scientific resources in New Mexico are extensive and accessible. We appreciate all of the state, federal and private entities that support economic development and research programs, including Arrowhead Center. Dana and her team are always there to mentor and help in any way that they can. They are the real deal and I highly recommend them to any entrepreneur in the state.”

Native artists and tribes interested in participating in the launch of MPI’s Protect Sovereign Native Art Initiative as beta-test clients can join by contacting MPI directly. To engage with MPI, visit montibon-provenance.com.

For more information on NM FAST, visit arrowheadcenter.nmsu.edu/nmfast. NM FAST is funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Author: Lauren Goldstein – NMSU

NMSU College of Business Names New Entrepreneurship Chairholder

Ebetuel ‘Beto’ Pallares, investor-in-residence at New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center, has been named the Bill and Sharon Sheriff Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship. Pallares succeeds Robert Macy, the first person to hold the chair.

Pallares was born in Juárez, Mexico, and raised in El Paso. He is the managing director and co-founder of Cowork Oasis, an innovation community for El Paso entrepreneurs, and is also an active high-tech early stage investor and university lecturer who conducts research on incubators and accelerators. He also serves on several corporate and venture fund advisory boards.

In 2006, he founded Joseph Advisory Services, an early stage venture capital and economic development advisory firm. He is also the sole general partner of Proficio Capital Management, an early stage fund. He is a Kauffman Fellow, as well as a Presidio Institute Cross Sector Leadership Fellow, and serves on the NMSU Intellectual Property Advisory Committee. Pallares received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Brandeis University in Massachusetts, and an MBA and a Ph.D. in international business strategy from the University of Texas at El Paso.

“It is an honor to serve as the Bill and Sharon Sheriff Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship as it aligns with my intent of the chair, the university’s goals and my personal desire to impact the entrepreneurial landscape of the region,” Pallares said. “The creation of a chair in entrepreneurship speaks to the importance of aligning business skills with economic development and it is emblematic of the give-back mentality NMSU instills in its graduates.”

The chair in entrepreneurship was established by a 2013 gift of more than $1 million from business executive and NMSU alumnus Bill Sheriff and his wife, Sharon, who wanted to help the College of Business attract and reward faculty who would provide leadership and expertise in cultivating a spirit of entrepreneurship in New Mexico and develop resources to advance that goal in the state and region.

“Teaching is a something I enjoy and doing so at NMSU’s College of Business is both exciting and challenging; NMSU is known to produce high-quality graduates, driven by a caring and well-prepared faculty and a student population to match,” Pallares said. “I aspire to complement the educational experience of students studying entrepreneurship and to prepare them as they embark on their entrepreneurial journeys during and after NMSU.”

James Hoffman, dean of the NMSU College of Business, said Pallares experience will serve to enhance the quality of education the college provides its students.

“Beto brings tremendous experience in entrepreneurship and a commitment to student success. In his new role at the College of Business, he will help inspire our students and lead them to pursue greater opportunities in entrepreneurship, ” Hoffman said.

Pallares hopes that as chair, he will help expand entrepreneurship opportunities throughout the state by tapping into the region’s existing talent.

“The tools and methods that underlie entrepreneurial behavior can be taught, while the zeal to excel and build successful businesses needs to be nurtured and fostered. When it comes to entrepreneurship, few universities have successfully bridged classroom content to application in industry. The Bill and Sharon Sheriff Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship will work with Arrowhead Center to ensure that New Mexico and the region have plenty of talent and opportunities whereby entrepreneurs can apply theory and practice,” Pallares said.

Author: Adriana M. Chavez – NMSU

Arrowhead Center Virtual Startup Accelerator Extends Application Deadline to June 18

New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center has extended the application deadline to June 18 for a new accelerator program open to all types of business startups that are located anywhere in New Mexico with plans to sell products or services to customers outside the state.

Offering participants $2,000 to accelerate their business, BizSprint is the latest in a series of Arrowhead Accelerator programs being provided by Arrowhead Center, NMSU’s entrepreneurship and innovation hub, through funding from New Mexico Gas Company, an Emera Company.

A four-week accelerator program designed to launch successful businesses in the state of New Mexico, BizSprint is modeled on the Aggie I-Corps program and designed to support growth-driven companies. Teams do not need any prior NMSU affiliation to be considered, and selected businesses can participate in the program’s curriculum and its weekly workshops virtually or in-person, making BizSprint accessible for entrepreneurs all across New Mexico.

Each team has a required structure, including an entrepreneurial lead based in New Mexico, a technical lead and a business mentor, and Arrowhead Center can help connect applicants to potential team members who could fill any roles that are missing. Teams will conduct market research and those that successfully complete the curriculum will receive $2,000 to further advance the business. Each team will also receive access to additional follow-on funding through Arrowhead Innovation Fund and mentorship through Arrowhead Innovation Network Ventures.

“Businesses that can scale and sell outside the state are critical for developing New Mexico’s economy,” said Kramer Winingham, director of Aggie I-Corps, NMSU’s National Science Foundation Innovation Corps Site at Arrowhead Center. “They promote local economic growth by bringing jobs and income into the local economy, and these are the types of businesses we plan to support through BizSprint.”

As an additional benefit, BizSprint teams with businesses in a science, technology, engineering or technology field may also be granted eligibility to apply for NSF’s National I-Corps program, which includes a $50,000 award.

Applications for the summer cohort of BizSprint are open through June 18 at arrowheadcenter.nmsu.edu/bizsprint. The cohort will meet Fridaymornings July 14 to Aug. 4. For additional information, contact Studio G at studiog@nmsu.edu.

Author:  Amanda Bradford – NMSU

Video+Story: NMSU Arrowhead Center now Accepting Registrations for Camp Innoventure

Registration is now open for Camp Innoventure, a unique day camp run by New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center, which offers a week-long experience in innovative thinking and entrepreneurial development for middle school students.

Now in its seventh year, the camp offers students a chance to learn creative-critical thinking skills that are applicable inside and outside of the classroom. Students are encouraged in areas of creative problem solving and collective brainstorming. In addition, students gain practice asking questions and learning the basic tenets of entrepreneurism.

Camp leaders include local educators, entrepreneurs and businesspeople.

This summer, there are three Las Cruces camps that run from 9 a.m. to noon each day. The camps will be offered from June 5-10, July 17-22 (co-hosted by the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce), and July 31-August 5. The cost is $40 per participant, and includes materials for students’ projects and a curriculum workbook.

There are a limited number of need-based scholarships available. Online Registration is available;  camps are limited to 12 students each, so early registration is encouraged.

Camp Innoventure allows students to learn about elements of starting a business while gaining hands-on experience in developing a product. Campers will spend the first half of the morning engaging with curriculum and the second half creating a marketable product. Past campers have also created jingles, packaging and marketing campaigns.

At the end of the week, students partner with the Las Cruces Farmers’ and Crafts Market for public, hands-on customer discovery and interaction within a community-specific demographic. This year, Camp Innoventure will also hold day camps in nine other locations across the state. Like the Las Cruces camps, students in these cities will partner with local markets to display and sell their products.

“On the leadership side, it’s shown us how creative our youth are and how much potential they have. It’s inspiring to us,” says Cassie Arias, economic development director for the City of Deming and Deming Luna County Economic Development (DLCED).

Program coordinator Lydia Hammond said last year’s expansion of Camp Innoventure has allowed organizers to provide the camp’s offerings and opportunities to many new students.

“The popularity of the camp in Las Cruces, specifically, has encouraged us to add a third session. It’s enriching for campers to learn new skills while having fun and interacting with the public. We’re excited to see what innovations they produce this year,” Hammond said.

For more information, please contact Hammond at 575-646-5230.

Author:  Lauren Goldstein – NMSU

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