Lobo Rainforest News
On August 25, 2017, the Lobo Rainforest Building officially opened its doors to the UNM and New Mexico innovation and entrepreneurial communities. The building currently has a 100% occupancy rate for tenants located on the first floor and for the 310 students living in the apartments on the upper floors.
Since 2012, STC has been responsible for carrying out the economic development vision of the University of New Mexico to drive economic growth in New Mexico. It is our mission to foster a Rainforest in the Desert by nurturing innovation and catalyzing economic development. It is growth through research discoveries and innovation-driven startup activity.
That mission created Innovate ABQ, a UNM and community-based plan to build a research and innovation district in downtown Albuquerque. The Lobo Rainforest Building is the heart of the developing innovation district, connecting university technologies to the entrepreneurial community.
“The Lobo Rainforest Building has activated the core site,” said Lisa Kuuttila, STC.UNM’s CEO and chief economic development officer. “It’s a space where it is easy for the tenants and the students (from UNM’s Innovation Academy) and others to collaborate, which has always been the goal of the entire Innovate ABQ project. This building has been a fantastic catalyst for the innovation district.”
The Rainforest concept is a new model for developing innovation systems that explains how complex innovation economies are able to generate extraordinary creativity and economic output. Innovation systems use the concept of a rainforest to explain that the talent, ideas, and capital that produce successful innovation economies in places like Silicon Valley move freely, are highly diverse, and rapidly connect and collaborate from the bottom up—just like a biological rainforest.
The Lobo Rainforest Building is a human innovation ecosystem and is designed to carry out the Rainforest concept. Creativity, scientific discovery, business acumen, and investment capital randomly propagate and nurture budding ideas so they can grow into flourishing and sustainable enterprises.
The first floor is home to STC, the Cecchi VentureLab, STC’s incubator for startups, the Innovation Academy, UNM’s program for entrepreneurial students, the Air Force Research Lab tech transfer office, Sandia National Labs tech transfer office, tech company General Atomics, and a Nusenda Credit Union branch office. Everything is co-located on the ground floor so there are more opportunities to meet and work with other inventors, mentors, business advisors, and experienced entrepreneurs. Upper floors feature downtown apartment living for the 310 UNM students living at the building.
The Lobo Rainforest Building is the first structure to be completed at the core site for the Innovate ABQ innovation district. The next generation of homegrown entrepreneurs and innovators are in the making at the Lobo Rainforest Building.
See Collin Krabbe’s August 27, 2018 article, “What’s happening at Lobo Rainforest one year in,” from Albuquerque Business First, at https://www.bizjournals.com/albuquerque/news/2018/08/27/whats-happening-at-lobo-rainforest-one-year-in.html.
By Catherine Stringam Published 03/28/18
The University of New Mexico Innovation Academy hosted a Create Your Own Job Fair for young entrepreneurs on Tuesday.
Setting it aside from a traditional job fair, the event was structured to support young people interested in starting their own business — essentially creating their own jobs.
Companies from across Albuquerque — like Nusenda, WESST, Sandia Labs, Air Force Research Labs, ABQid, SCORE Business Mentoring and many more — set up booths and talked to students at Lobo Rainforest.
Students had the opportunity to wander through the non-traditional job fair and discuss their business ideas with company representatives. They received advice and information to help them reach their business goals.
“It’s definitely helpful to have all these people in one place, because they’re all diverse and all from different companies and have different ways to help,” UNM student Katherine Brunner said.
Connor Lites, a graduate student at UNM, said it can be hard to start a business, and this event helped him to find his next steps.
“It’s difficult figuring out where to go when you’re an entrepreneur,” Lites said. “I’m looking to get funding and mentorship and consulting, so this event was really great.”
Robert Del Campo, director of the Innovation Academy, said the last time the Create Your Own Job Fair happened was several years ago, but he wanted to bring it back to benefit students.
“We have different ways that we try to help and fund students that are interested in starting their own enterprise,” Del Campo said.
Some of these funds come from competitions, such as the Innovation Academy’s pitch competition coming up in April, he said.
“There’s a lot of free help to small businesses that they don’t really realize,” said Sandia National Labs Project Manager Judy Hendricks.
Hendricks said a small New Mexico business can come consult with the engineers and biologists at Sandia Labs for free. Many of the other companies at the career fair offer free consulting and aid for young business people as well.
The Innovation Academy currently works with 34 student-run businesses, according to Del Campo.
Kyle Guin attended the event and is one of these entrepreneurs at the academy. He currently runs a company called Shutter Bombs, which sells smoke bombs for use in photography and art.
Students Katherine Brunner and Molly Schmeltzer also attended the event and said they are trying to start a membership subscription for beer coupons.
“We talk about how our economy is depressed here in Albuquerque, but there are actually a lot of efforts that are being made to build our economy and our businesses and our community,” Lites said. “It’s important that we take advantage of these opportunities.”