New Mexico Tech President Stephen Wells and Nusenda President and CEO Joe Christian shake hands after signing an agreement to create a new space for entrepreneurs and startups on California Street.
Cathy Cook | El Defensor Chieftain

A new space is opening in Socorro to help entrepreneurs navigate starting a business, with help on everything from intellectual property rights to cybersecurity advice.

The office is a collaboration between New Mexico Tech and Nusenda, who signed an agreement making the partnership official last Tuesday.

“This is an example of how industry and academia can work together in a really remarkable way to change the whole culture of a small rural community,” said New Mexico Tech President Stephen Wells.

The Technology Commercialization Accelerator, a program directed by the Tech Office of Innovation Commercialization through a cooperative agreement with the Small Business Development Center Network, will co-occupy space with NMT startups adjacent to Nusenda Credit Union, at 1019 N. California St.

“Significant technology’s been developed at New Mexico Tech over the decades. It started with Dr. Frank Etscorn and the development of the nicotine patch, and it’s gone on to even new spinouts, one being Socorro Membranes…which would produce advanced water and filtration systems,” said Wells.

NMT startups will work alongside the TCA, led by TCA Coordinator Estefanita Rawlings, who provides clients across the state with intellectual property and cybersecurity training. TCA serves entrepreneurs at the idea and invention stage and provides no-cost, confidential counseling regarding intellectual property.

“We are here to help them with their ideas. When a person starts with their idea they get stuck along the way. The goal is, I have an idea, I want to put it on the shelf. OK, how do I get there?” said Rawlings.

She has been doing that work from home for the last two years. Having office space will make it easier for her to help entrepreneurs.

Two technology startups are already set to have offices in the space: RD Health Sensing, which is next generation technology for smart clothing, and Socorro Membrane Technologies, a desalination technology.

Both startups developed their technology at NMT. Donghyeon Ryu invented the wearable technology, while Jianjia Yu is behind the desalination technology.

“The time comes when these companies have to leave campus, and if we want them to stay in Socorro, they need a place to go,” said Peter Anselmo, who has been instrumental in working with the startups.

“It’s the next step out of the university and into the community,” said OIC’s Executive Director, Myrriah Tomar.

Typically, startups that begin at NMT go to Albuquerque when they’re ready to spread their wings, because more resources are available there, said Tomar.

The next step will be building an off-campus lab, to encourage companies to stay close to the inventor and campus, said Anselmo.

The OIC was created in 2017 to promote entrepreneurial culture on campus, focusing on commercializing technology developed by Tech.

“We’re hopeful that our expanded support of New Mexico Tech and the OIC and the great work they do will contribute in a positive way with ripple effects across the state,” said Nusenda President and CEO Joe Christian.