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NMSU-based NM FAST helps small businesses navigate federal programs

Release Date: 16 Sep 2022
NMSU-based NM FAST helps small businesses navigate federal programs

Navigating federal funding programs is no easy task for small businesses. Fortunately, New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center houses a program to help entrepreneurs find success.

Arrowhead Center’s New Mexico Federal and State Technology program, or NM FAST, offers training and mentoring for small businesses in New Mexico through targeted support and proposal development assistance for Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs. These highly competitive programs promote technological innovation by providing non-dilutive funding to small businesses engaging in research and development.

Eleven federal agencies have SBIR/STTR programs and collectively provided more than $4 billion in early-stage seed capital in 2021. Since NM FAST began in 2015, it has helped 300 businesses throughout New Mexico secure $11.6 million in SBIR/STTR awards.

“We help people figure out if SBIR/STTR funding is right for their company and connect them with resources to create a strong proposal package,” said Del Mackey, NM FAST program manager.

Examples of clients who used NM FAST’s services and won SBIR/STTR awards are Cliff Hudson and Roch Hart.

Hudson is the CEO of Emerging Technology Ventures, Inc., headquartered in Alamogordo. He has more than 32 years of experience from the United States Department of Defense in acquisition management, project management and technology transition. ETV focuses on autonomous systems and predictive analytics for operations in complex environments, such as aerospace assets, critical infrastructure, renewable energy and precision agriculture. 

Hudson participated in Arrowhead’s AgSprint program, which allowed ETV to refine their product value proposition and customer segmentation, leading to a pivot on how to approach visual recognition systems, resulting in a $20,000 investment in Arrowhead’s 2018 AgAssembly. He also participated in NM FAST’s DOD-focused Arrowhead Center SBIR Accelerator, which leads participants through the proposal preparation process.

With NM FAST’s guidance, ETV has secured two Phase I awards with the U.S. Navy and NASA, in conjunction with Navajo Technical University and New Mexico Tech. ETV also received the 2022 NM SBIR Grant, which provided matching funds against a federal award to undertake commercialization activities. ETV was selected earlier this month for a NASA STTR Phase II award.

“These programs have allowed us to pair those funds with our resources to mature our technology and continue to grow it,” Hudson said. “It’s also a way into the customer domain. It brings that introduction, and you’re able to work hand-in-hand with a potential long-term customer.”

Hart is the co-founder and CEO of Wildlife Protection Management in Albuquerque. Hart was a police officer with the Albuquerque Police Department. Upon retirement, he began managing a 20,000-acre ranch and experienced an issue with wild horses.

To address this, his team developed the WPM Remote Wildlife Vaccine Delivery System as an alternative to roundup methods that utilize single-shot dart guns. This remote inoculation system safely vaccinates and gives contraception to wild horses. Horses are attracted to a feeding station to receive vaccines and an RFID tag to ensure they are not receiving multiple doses, and to monitor their health, track locations and capture data about migratory and roaming patterns.

Hart has participated in various Arrowhead programs, including Aggie I-Corps and AgSprint. Through these, Hart’s team has conducted valuable customer discovery to realize the validity of their technology. Through NM FAST’s assistance, WPM patented their technology, developed a prototype and secured a Phase I grant from the National Science Foundation STTR program.

“The NSF grant gives our company credibility. The fact that NSF says, ‘This is a company that we're willing to invest in,’ tells other federal agencies they saw something they should pay attention to,” Hart said.

WPM is partnering with NMSU’s College of Engineering to continue refining their innovation, moving away from using RFID tags to implementing facial recognition software.

“Cliff and Roch are outstanding examples of how the SBIR/STTR programs can move an innovation closer to market,” said Dana Catron, Arrowhead Center deputy director and SBIR program director. "We look forward to continuing to work with both startups and watching their businesses grow.”

To learn more about NM FAST, visit https://arrowheadcenter.org/program/nm-fast/. To learn more about ETV, visit https://www.etvamerica.com/. And to learn more about WPM, visit https://www.wildlifepm.com/.

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CUTLINE: Cliff Hudson accepts a grant from New Mexico Federal and State Technology program manager Del Mackey at the Ag Assembly in 2018. Hudson is the CEO of Emerging Technology Ventures, Inc., which has received guidance from NM FAST, which is housed at New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center, and was awarded funding to patent technology. (Courtesy photo)

Two men holding an oversized check.

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CUTLINE: Roch Hart stands on the ranch where the Wildlife Protection Management Remote Wildlife Vaccine Delivery System is deployed. Hart has worked with the New Mexico Federal and State Technology program to patent technology and receive federal funding to develop a protoype. (Courtesy photo)

Man in a blue shirt standing in the desert.

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