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NMSU’s Arrowhead Center to co-host Mesas to Mountains innovation summit

Release Date: 27 Sep 2022
NMSU’s Arrowhead Center to co-host Mesas to Mountains innovation summit

A collaboration between New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center and three other universities has produced Mesas to Mountains, an effort to support underrepresented businesses in New Mexico, Alaska, Idaho and Montana.

Through a $150,000 award from the 2021 Small Business Innovation Research Catalyst prize competition, administered by the United States Small Business Administration, Arrowhead Center began collaborating with the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the University of Idaho and TechLink at Montana State University.

The team will host the virtual two-day Mesas to Mountains SBIR Innovation Summit Oct. 11-12. This event will bring together small businesses, federal program managers, innovation ecosystem representatives, experts and local organizations with a vested interest in driving innovation through SBIR and Small Business Technology Transfer programs, connecting businesses to the innovation ecosystem for growth and development, and technology transfer and intellectual property protection.

“Mesas to Mountains is an incredible example of how the collective strengths of different states can come together to support SBIR/STTR applicants in underserved regions,” said Dana Catron, deputy director of Arrowhead Center and SBIR program director. “Arrowhead’s Del Mackey and the entire team did an outstanding job designing, executing and supporting these startups. Rather than the culmination of this multi-state collaboration, the two-day event promises to be a catalyst for future partnerships and expanded opportunities, for both the institutions and the startups we serve.”

The collaboration between Arrowhead Center and the three universities sought to support the SBA’s initiative to promote inclusive entrepreneurship in the innovation ecosystem by addressing current gaps in access to the innovation economy for communities of color, women entrepreneurs and rural communities. Through this collaboration, they created Mesas to Mountains, providing a targeted approach for SBIR/STTR support for underrepresented businesses in each state and guiding them through agency selection, proposal creation, award management, and commercialization practices.

Capitalizing on the individual strengths of each respective institution, they have hosted two multi-week accelerators, offering customized support to accelerator participants. Throughout the cohorts, participants engaged in weekly discussions and teaching sessions, one-on-one meetings with experts in their respective states, and had the opportunity to connect with researchers at national labs to further their innovations.

“The Mesas to Mountains collaboration is shrinking the boundaries of our large rural states by connecting promising new tech founders to a national network of partners, SBIR support organizations, university and federal lab technology transfer offices, and other successful founders,” said Ann Peterson, program director for the Montana Innovation Partnership based at Montana State University TechLink Center. “This collaboration with our innovation ecosystem partners has provided Montana small tech companies with actionable strategies that they can take to protect their IP, leverage partnerships with universities and federal labs, and uncover if seed investment opportunities through the SBIR/STTR programs may be right for their startups.”

“Alaska has many underrepresented businesses, and the SBIR Catalyst award and the Mesas to Mountains SBIR Accelerator allowed us, for the first time, to provide these businesses access to federal seed money. As a result of this partnership, Alaska received an SBA FAST award and we will continue to collaborate with Arrowhead Center to deliver training, resources and assistance to Alaskan innovators,” said Evelyn Jacome, SBIR/STTR program manager for the Alaska Center for Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The speaker list for the event includes SBIR program managers from the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health, business law and accounting service providers, patent professionals, and technology transfer officers from federal laboratories and higher education institutions.

The first day of the summit will be SBIR/STTR-focused, with panels about how SBIR/STTR programs can help move innovative ideas to commercialization. Day two of the event will be centered around patenting and licensing, featuring panels highlighting what you need to know about patents, how to protect your intellectual property and partnering with research institutions. Both days will offer virtual booths and one-on-one opportunities with federal program managers, ecosystem supporters, intellectual property and patent professionals, and research institution personnel.

Registration for the event is free and now open at

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