New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center is one of eight universities to receive $1.22 million out of the $15 million National Science Foundation investment for five years through the NSF’s Innovation Corps, or I-Corps, Southwest Region Hub. Arrowhead Center serves as the economic development arm of NMSU, while also serving as the technology transfer and intellectual property office for the university.
The new I-Corps Southwest Region Hub is one of five new hubs across the country, and is led by the University of Texas at Austin. Other universities in the regional hub include NMSU, the University of Texas as El Paso, Rice University, Louisiana State University, Oklahoma State University, Texas A&M and the University of Texas at San Antonio.
“Arrowhead Center and NMSU are excited to be included as part of the Southwest Region Hub,” said Kathryn Hansen, director of Arrowhead Center. “Establishing strong partnerships with like-minded institutions will bolster access for our I-Corps teams and lead to stronger outcomes, both for New Mexico and the Southwest region.”
Arrowhead will lead the hub’s diversity, equity and inclusion and accessibility efforts. NMSU, which is a Hispanic-serving institution, and Arrowhead Center have a strong record prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, and developing best practices, especially in the innovation and entrepreneurial space. For example, funding through agencies like the Minority Business Development Agency have allowed Arrowhead Center to design and run programming specific to Native American entrepreneurs.
Brooke Montgomery, who oversees Arrowhead’s I-Corps program and leads Arrowhead’s American Indian Business Enterprise Center, said, “Our effort to lead the DEI and accessibility efforts for the NSF I-Corps Hub will include the development, dissemination and implementation of similar models for other hub institutions, promoting a diverse and inclusive innovation culture across the region.”
Arrowhead became an NSF I-Corps site in 2016 and started the Aggie I-Corps program, which has supported more than 140 teams of student and faculty inventors advance and commercialize their research. Aggie I-Corps participants have raised more than $5 million in investment and grants and have created more than 150 jobs. Aggie I-Corps has become an important component of New Mexico’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
The NSF I-Corps program, created in 2011, was designed to support the commercialization of deep technologies that grow from discoveries into fundamental science and engineering. The new hub model includes a larger geographical and institutional area, expanding the program and positioning institutions to assist a greater number of researchers spanning multiple institutions.
“I am delighted the I-Corps hubs that we are awarding today will expand the footprint of the National Innovation Network, harnessing the innovation potential that exists all across the country by establishing clear pathways for researchers to engage with NSF’s Lab-to-Market Platform,” said Erwin Gianchandani, NSF assistant director for technology, innovation and partnerships. “Each regional I-Corps hub provides training essential in entrepreneurship and customer discovery, leading to new products, startups and jobs. In this way, the I-Corps program will open up new economic opportunities throughout the United States.”
A core mission of the new Southwest Region Hub is to develop a systematic and comprehensive regional network of programming that accelerates the translation of federally funded research to innovations that support the long-term success of academic startups, deep-tech workforce development and economic growth. With a diverse community of faculty members, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and innovators, the hub will implement standardized training programs and the first curriculum delivered exclusively in Spanish. It aims to provide assistance by creating and implementing new tools, resources and training activities to analyze and evaluate startup outcomes from participants.
To learn more about the NSF I-Corps program, visit https://beta.nsf.gov/funding/initiatives/i-corps. To learn more about Aggie I-Corps, visit https://arrowheadcenter.org/program/studio-g/aggie-i-corps/.