Lobo Rainforest News

April 19, 2021

Comcast Pitch Deck Competition a Success for Young Entrepreneurs

Albuquerque, NM – April 19, 2021 –During an inspiring virtual event, five student entrepreneur teams went head-to-head and pitched their big ideas to a virtual audience of investors, business leaders, entrepreneurs and enthusiastic supporters.

The Comcast Pitch Deck Competition was co-hosted by UNM Rainforest Innovations and the UNM Innovation Academy, the University of New Mexico’s technology-transfer and economic-development organization and entrepreneurial studies program. Sponsored by Comcast, the competition offered a platform for student entrepreneurs who want to start or are already operating an early-stage company to present and launch their innovations. Comcast provided a $20,000 prize pool for the five finalists who pitched their innovative ideas and early-stage companies to investor judges.

The winners were:

  • First Place $10,000 Prize – Alexander Hafez, Circular Genomics – A circular RNA technology to help in the clinical fight against depression.
  • Second Place $5,000 Prize – Isabel Last & Miguel Roman, Faena – A research-based, intuitive video game to engage language learning for non-native speakers.
  • Third Place $2,500 Prize – Savannah Hoover, Modest House – An app to help millennials “Learn, Turn and Earn” in today’s real estate market.
  • Finalist $1,000 Prize – Daniel Martinez, Omnos Sleep – An innovative device for the treatment of sleep apnea.
  • Finalist $1,000 Prize – Tina Memarian, Lamiflo – An innovative solution for ischemic strokes.

“The Comcast Pitch Deck Competition was a great opportunity to get meaningful experience presenting to and answering questions from individuals who are business leaders in New Mexico,” said Alexander Hafez, PhD student and grand prize winner. “I look forward using their feedback to help Circular Genomics grow into a successful business.”

Pitch deck competitions go further than the typical elevator pitch by including visual representations and summaries for a new company, business plan or startup vision. The goals of a pitch deck are to spark interest from potential investors, meet investors and give entrepreneurs more experience presenting to audiences. Judges looked for quality of message delivery through non-verbal cues, (voice, eye contact, gestures, movement) and persuasive and creative content which “connects all the dots” toward commercialization.

“I am so grateful to have participated in the 2021 pitch competition, and I am proud to have represented the UNM School of Law in the final five. Providing these spaces for innovation is so critical,” said Savannah Hoover, Pitch Deck Participant and JD/MBA program student. “A huge thank you to the sponsors, show runners, and participants for such an engaging experience.”

Comcast sponsored the 2019 Comcast Pitch Deck Competition which awarded nearly $20,000 to five student entrepreneur teams.

About Comcast Corporation
Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is a global media and technology company that connects people to moments that matter. We are principally focused on broadband, aggregation, and streaming with over 56 million customer relationships across the United States and Europe. We deliver broadband, wireless, and video through our Xfinity, Comcast Business, and Sky brands; create, distribute, and stream leading entertainment, sports, and news through Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, Universal Studio Group, Sky Studios, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, multiple cable networks, Peacock, NBCUniversal News Group, NBC Sports, Sky News, and Sky Sports; and provide memorable experiences at Universal Parks and Resorts in the United States and Asia. Visit www.comcastcorporation.com for more information.

About Innovation Academy
The Innovation Academy is a mindset shared by the UNM Community that asks “how do we teach and learn best so that students are prepared for life beyond college?” Based on the Rainforest theory of a bottom-up approach to innovation, iA encourages different people and groups to come together to create.  It is a cross-pollinating approach to finding solutions to problems and developing new ideas. It is based on the belief that solutions can be found when people with different backgrounds and skills come together to work on real problems and needs coming from companies and the community.  This type of experiential, or hands-on, learning prepares students to be successful in careers and work places in the real world and deepen their core subject knowledge.  Visit innovationacademy.unm.edu/ for more information.

About UNM Rainforest Innovations
 As the technology-transfer and economic-development organization for the University of New Mexico (UNM), UNM Rainforest Innovations (formerly STC.UNM) protects and commercializes technologies developed at UNM by filing patents and copyrights and transferring them to the marketplace. We connect the business community (companies, entrepreneurs and investors) to these UNM technologies for licensing opportunities and the creation of start-up companies. Our vision is to play a vital role in New Mexico’s economic development and to be a leader in technology commercialization.  Under the leadership of CEO & Chief Economic Development Officer Lisa Kuuttila, UNM Rainforest Innovations is substantially growing its program using the Rainforest model to develop an innovation economy in New Mexico. Visit our website at www.innovations.unm.edu.

Media Contacts

UNM Rainforest Innovations
Savanah Romero – sromero@innovations.unm.edu

Kyle Biederwolf – kyle_biederwolf@comcast.com


April 19, 2021

NM Rainforest University Center Student Uses EDA Funded Program to Supplement Education and Jump-Start Entrepreneurial Pursuits

In September, 2019 when the EDA NM Rainforest University Center hosted its first Network of Student Inventors (NSI) meeting, Tina, a freshman at the time, was one of the first people to show.

“When I first heard of Lobo Rainforest, I thought to myself ‘I have to go to their inventor meetings!’”

Tina, now a sophomore, has attended multiple NSI meetings and earned her Entrepreneurial Capabilities Certificate from the NM Rainforest University Center in the summer of 2020. Her initial participation with the University Center led to her participation in the National Science Foundation (NSF) Lobo Rainforest I-Corp Site Program where she was an entrepreneurial student lead for a university start-up, ShearIT. This role eventually resulted in Tina officially joining ShearIT’s company team where she works to help the startup with customer discovery regarding an innovative treatment for ischemic stroke.

In addition to her activity with the University Center and NSF I-Corps Program, she has participated & placed, on two separate occasions, in the Rainforest Student Pitch Competition for her 90-second pitches on two unique business ideas. More recently, Tina competed in the New Mexico 2021 Comcast Student Pitch Deck Competition and placed as a Top Five Finalist for the pitch she gave for ShearIT’s new ischemic stroke treatment, Lamiflo.

When asked to reflect on her experience with the NM Rainforest University Center, Tina states, “Attending seminars or various programs has helped me realize all the entrepreneurial possibilities there are. From pitch competitions to one-on-one office hours, I have been able to use my resources to learn about how I can start my own business. I have connected with great people and have met wonderful mentors. The best part about wanting to open a business is getting to meet people and I feel fully supported. Lobo Rainforest is honestly one of my favorite places and not only do you learn great things, but the atmosphere is awesome!”

If you are a student, small business owner or community member in New Mexico interested in starting or improving your journey in entrepreneurship, you can check out our University Center Entrepreneurial Capabilities Certificate, Training Videos and Mentoring Office hours at http://loborainforest.com/nmrainforest/ or email Cecilia Pacheco at cpacheco@innovations.unm.edu for more information.

March 25, 2021

Eighth Innovate New Mexico® Moves to Virtual Format

Innovate New Mexico is a collaborative event featuring representatives and researchers from seven major research institution across New Mexico to highlight the latest research and technology opportunities, startup companies and economic development resources. The research institutes include the University of New Mexico, the Air Force Research Lab, Los Alamos National Lab, Sandia National Labs, NASA, New Mexico Tech and New Mexico State University.

Just one year ago, the seventh Innovate New Mexico event took place at the Event Center at Sandia Golf Club. That was before COVID pandemic which has impacted the way in which we now host events. Moving to an online format, the 2021 Innovate New Mexico was spread over two-days and included six technology and company presentations running simultaneously over two tracks via Zoom. Attendees could jump between technology presentations to company presentation seamlessly. All presentations were recorded and are uploaded to the UNM Rainforest Innovations’ YouTube channel.

The first day kicked off with opening remarks by Jon Clark, Deputy Chair Secretary at the New Mexico Economic Development Department. Then the technology and company presentations took place relating to physical sciences. See below for links to the recordings of their presentations.

The moderator of the technology presentations was Mary Monson, Senior Manager of Technology Partnerships and Business Development at Sandia National Laboratories and company presentations were moderated by David Kistin, Manager of Technology and Economic Development at Sandia National Laboratories. After the presentations, closing remarks were given by Jennifer Sinsabaugh, Chief Executive Officer at New Mexico MEP. The last hour included virtual networking where attendees could chat with the presenters.

Physical Science Technology Presentations

Physical Science Company Presentations

The second day kicked off with opening remarks by Myrriah Tomar, Director of the Office of Science & Technology at the New Mexico Economic Development Department. Next came the technology and company presentations relating to life sciences. See below for links to the recordings of their presentations.

The moderator of the technology presentations was Matt O’Brien, Technology Business Specialist at the Air Force Research Laboratory and company presentations were moderated by Mariann Johnston, Project Manager at the Feynman Center for Innovation at Los Alamos National Laboratory. After the presentations, closing remarks were given by Lisa Kuuttila, CEO & Chief Economic Development Officer of UNM Rainforest Innovations. Her speech highlighted the many ways in which New Mexico is achieving high rankings in innovation and entrepreneurial areas. The last hour included virtual networking where attendees could chat with the presenters.

Life Science Technology Presentations

Life Science Company Presentations

To learn more about Innovate New Mexico, visit http://www.innovatenewmexico.com/

View all of the presentations on our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvSGf0aK1KNJ358sYJ8_IRQ/videos

March 22, 2021

New Mexico Rainforest University Center – Providing Entrepreneurial Training to the State of Innovation

In fall 2018, UNM Rainforest Innovations and the Innovation Academy received funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) University Center Economic Development Program to support the development of the New Mexico Rainforest University Center.

The New Mexico Rainforest EDA University Center has been developed and implemented throughout the state of New Mexico via the University of New Mexico (UNM) in Albuquerque and its branch campuses in Gallup, Los Lunas, Los Alamos and Taos, providing entrepreneurial training and mentoring to students, entrepreneurs and community members. The University Center offers monthly webinars covering various entrepreneurial topics and the opportunity for participants to earn an Entrepreneurial Capabilities Certificate. So far, 26 participants have received their certificates and the NM Rainforest University Center is hoping to continue providing entrepreneurial training and certificates to more individuals.

The Entrepreneurial Capabilities Certificate series is free and open to the UNM and greater New Mexico community via live Zoom meetings or recordings on the NM Rainforest website. In order to receive a certificate, participants must view seven or more seminars via livestream or on our YouTube channel and complete the associated quizzes. All material can be found on the NM Rainforest website and have also recently been transferred to a Google Classroom platform for an improved user experience.

If you are interested in earning your Entrepreneurial Capabilities Certificate through UNM Rainforest Innovations and the UNM Innovation Academy, we recommend starting with these trainings:

View the complete library of recordings and quizzes at: http://loborainforest.com/nmrainforest/videos/



January 8, 2021

UNM Rainforest Innovations announces 2021 Business and Economic Summit

The University of New Mexico hosts its third Business and Economic Summit, aimed at encouraging a statewide dialogue about ways to grow the New Mexico economy and innovation ecosystem.

Themed, “New Mexico 2030,” the goal is to convene stakeholders (public, private and non-profit) from across New Mexico.

“As the catalyst for economic development at the University, UNM Rainforest Innovations is honored to be offering this virtual gathering for leaders to convene and create,” said Lisa Kuuttila, CEO and Chief Economic Development Officer of UNM Rainforest Innovations. “It’s to the benefit of all New Mexicans that we continue persevering and pushing for positive change. By creating this free online event, we hope to bring even more voices to the table than in years past.”

Recognizing the progress that the state has made to date, the Summit will envision economic growth in New Mexico. The summit will build on the recommendations of New Mexico Chamber of Commerce’s recent study “Driving New Mexico’s Future: Empowering a Competitive Economy in a Post-Pandemic World“.

UNM is one the only university in the state classified by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education as a R1: Doctoral Universities with very high research activity. The designation makes UNM an ideal launchpad for innovating new pathways to progress while reinvigorating the economic outlook in New Mexico.

The daylong online summit features local and state leaders of research, commerce and higher education. It is being held Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. via Zoom. It is free and registration is open online; click here to register.

UNM President Garnett S. Stokes will give the opening remarks, with a keynote address from Michael M. Crow, Ph.D., President, Arizona State University, titled The Role of Public Universities in State-wide Economic Development.

There will also be panel discussions and breakout rooms with insight from New Mexico business leaders, researchers and others.

See the full agenda here.

The 2021 New Mexico Business and Economic Summit is being hosted by UNM Rainforest Innovations. As the technology-transfer and economic-development organization for the University of New Mexico, UNM Rainforest Innovations protects and commercializes technologies developed at UNM by filing patents and copyrights and transferring the technologies to the marketplace. It connects the business community (companies, entrepreneurs and investors) to these UNM technologies for licensing opportunities and the creation of startup companies.

Original article from UNM Newsroom can be founds at https://news.unm.edu/news/unm-rainforest-innovations-announces-2021-business-and-economic-summit