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UNM Students Will Benefit from Innovate ABQ Initiative

Albuquerque, NM – August 21, 2013 Innovate ABQ, UNM’s collaborative project with the city, county, state, and business communities to create a research and innovation district near the University, will provide great opportunities for students in terms of good jobs, internships and attractive residential and cultural amenities. To get the student perspective, see Jamillah Wilcox’s article in today’s edition of DailyLobo.com, reprinted below.

Business hub may provide internships

Innovate ABQ to consist of two properties
UNM students can expect a boost to the city’s entrepreneurial and startup scenes near UNM with the initiation of Innovate ABQ.

In January, UNM President Robert Frank, along with other University officials, visited the University of Florida at Gainesville to survey its Innovation Square, a business hub that surrounds the university with the goal of jump-starting the local economy.

Innovate ABQ aims to bring a similar business hub to UNM and provide jobs centered in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

In June, Frank said UNM has been discussing the project with Bernalillo County and with the mayor’s office.

Science and Technology Corporation CEO and Chief Economic Development Officer Elizabeth Kuuttila said the project has already received money from the Albuquerque City Council and will continue to look for more funding.

“We have a commitment from the city for $2 million toward the project,” she said. “We have a proposal into the EDA (Economic Development Administration), and we are looking at other sources at the moment.”

Kuuttila said the project will allow students to get involved in their fields of interest. She said there are plans for student dormitories and startup commercialized technology companies.

“We do envision there being a dorm located on the site that would be of interest to students who have aspirations for entrepreneurial endeavors at some point in their career,” Kuuttila said. “Students will become part of a community, a ‘live, work, play’ community where they can interact with entrepreneurs and others involved in startup companies.”

Students may be given opportunities to intern for the companies, and the training they receive could prepare them for entrepreneurial opportunities, Kuuttila said.

“We hope to recruit companies that would want to locate at this Innovate ABQ site,” she said. “One of the reasons companies may want to do so is that they want to hire student interns. Companies are looking to hire (full-time) students who they may have hired as student interns.”

Even though Innovate ABQ is still in the process of negotiating sites for development, Kuuttila said the University would benefit from working with private and public partners.

“It really provides that synergy among multiple parties,” she said. “The business community, the governmental sector, the science community, the business parts of the University (and) students are all working on an innovation.”

The two-phase project will require two separate locations, said Kuuttila. She said one could be at Mesa del Sol’s Aperture Center, and that another could be at the site of the First Baptist Church near Central and Broadway downtown.

However, Kuuttila said Innovate ABQ, a joint initiative between UNM and STC, is still waiting for approval from Finance and Facilities before construction at Mesa del Sol can begin. She also said the University is still negotiating with the owners of the First Baptist Church site.

“We are still in discussions,” she said. “Nothing is definite at this point.”

Cory Esquibel, a senior at UNM, said he has lived near campus since January. He said he likes where he lives, but the University can help by providing students with more opportunities.

“Personally I love the location where I live,” Esquibel said. “I feel that if more was built around Downtown, such as restaurants, shopping centers and comfortable places to hang out, it would be a great way to meet people and interact more with UNM students.”

He said if UNM allows companies to hire interns, students can learn more.

“You learn a lot inside the classroom,” he said. “But I feel that you learn more when you actually get involved and work hands-on.”

Source: Daily Lobo


For more information, contact:

Jamillah Wilcox