UNM Rainforest Innovations

On February 24, ten teams of entrepreneurial-minded faculty and students began the UNM Lobo I-Corps Site Program. This 10-week training program is designed for UNM faculty and students who want to learn how to transition their STEM-related technologies to the marketplace.

The NSF-funded I-Corps program at the Lobo Rainforest Building is a partnership between STC.UNM and the Innovation Academy and its purpose is to foster innovation among faculty and students, promote regional coordination and linkages in the innovation ecosystem, as well as develop a National Innovation Network.

The program offers seed funding to each team in the amount of $3,000 to fund customer discovery efforts and proof-of-concept prototyping. Teams learn how to determine value proposition, customers, size of market, and market trends for their respective technologies. Each team consists of an academic lead (typically a UNM faculty or staff member), an entrepreneurial lead (a UNM student or post-doc), and an external industry mentor provided by the I-Corps program.

This particular cohort faced some unique challenges this semester. The program typically consists of in-person training, group meetings, and presentations, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic the program had to take a creative approach to collaboration. With the help of Slack, an online communication platform, and Zoom to run presentations and meetings, the program was able to transition completely online. Final presentations were recorded instead of given in-person and six mentors provided written feedback followed up by one-on-one meetings. Teams were able to easily adapt to these unforeseen circumstances and finished the program on a positive note.

The spring 2020 teams worked on the following technologies:

  • ClassBucks, LLC – a web-based/app technology for classroom management to teach financial literacy skills.
  • Adapt-It-Together – a central website and mobile app for people with disabilities to share, create, and discuss  solutions to daily activities.
  • ArmaTech, LLC – a technology that predicts solar irradiance to help large scale PV farms integrate more efficiently with the power grid.
  • Retractables – a retractable needle designed to prevent the spread of disease.
  • Med-Spec – a checklist application and user specific physical accessory designed to help medical personnel perform various tasks in an efficient manner without missing integral steps in various processes.
  • BMG Robotic, LLC – an unmanned ground vehicle used to inspect crawl spaces in homes and commercial buildings.
  • H2O WITH FORCE – a technology that provides pressure for water storage containers in developing nations at a low cost.
  • Innovation Creations: Light My Path – a cane with a light used to illuminate the user’s path
  • C.A.N. – a protective harness for pets used to prevent an animal from scratching a wound or injury
  • Vascular Access Device – innovative device that solve problems related to hemodialysis and fistulas

To apply to participate in the Lobo Rainforest I-Corps program in Fall 2020, complete the online application at http://loborainforest.com/icorps/

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