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Arrowhead Innovation Fund welcomes new board members Manatt, Castañeda

Release Date: 23 Jul 2020
Arrowhead Innovation Fund welcomes new board members Manatt, Castañeda

The Arrowhead Innovation Fund is welcoming former New Mexico State University Regent President James Manatt, and Orlando Castañeda, an NMSU graduate and vice president and banking adviser at Northern Trust, as new board members.

“AIF remains in a position to continue new investment efforts in New Mexico while supporting current portfolio companies,” said Beto Pallares, AIF fund manager. “With the addition of both Manatt and Castañeda, we broaden and complement the expertise of our board.”

Castañeda has been in banking since 2001. Prior to joining Northern Trust in 2015, Castañeda was assistant vice president and lending relationship manager at First Western Trust. From 2007 to 2012, he analyzed middle market small business companies, and private banking transactions for Comerica Bank and National Bank of Arizona. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from NMSU.

“New Mexico’s venture capital ecosystem is far more stable than it was during the last recession. There are multiple efforts across the state in building an entrepreneurship ecosystem,” Castañeda said. “To move forward past the current pandemic, startups will need to have a business model that can withstand the new habits adopted by consumers. This will form much more resilient companies and will also boost new, innovative business ideas. AIF is fully committed to support new emerging technologies that may solve the world’s most challenging problems.”

Manatt is president/CEO and founding director of Thrust Energy, Inc., a New Mexico energy development company, and managing member of Blue Sierra Power, LLC, a “blue to green” natural gas electric power venture providing reliable base load for wind and solar power.

He is the co-inventor and owner of an advanced geophysical patented technology, Directed Beam Seismic. Manatt’s public service includes former president (a title now known as chair) of the NMSU Board of Regents; past chair of New Mexico First; and founding director of Spaceport America; along with being a licensed commercial pilot and realtor. He is a 1971 NMSU Distinguished Military Graduate.

“The emergence of AIF is yet another outstanding milestone in our university's and Arrowhead Center's phenomenal vision, growth, and progress,” said Manatt. “Quite frankly, money is the milk of creative commercialization. You can have all the great ideas in the world, but if there is no resource to help commercialize new and creative ideas, technology, applications and research, those great ideas are up the creek without a paddle. I see great, innovative, bold thinking in AIF's leadership, and I am looking forward to contributing to AIF’s success in all humble ways.”

For more information about AIF or its other board members, visit

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