UNM Rainforest Innovations

A new report was released today analyzing the entire University of New Mexico system and quantified its impact on the New Mexico economy during academic year 2022.

As one of New Mexico’s major employers, UNM enhances workforce productivity, improves quality of life, stimulates innovation, and drives economic growth statewide. The entire UNM system is vast and includes Albuquerque Main Campus, Health Sciences Center, Sandoval Regional Medical Center in Rio Rancho, and the four branch campuses in Taos, Valencia County, Los Alamos, and Gallup.

A new report, titled “The Statewide Economic Impact of the University of New Mexico,” analyzed data from academic year 2022 and worked to quantify the entire UNM system’s economic impact. The report investigated four major components of UNM’s contributions to the New Mexico economy, including university operations, student expenditures, alumni human capital, and technology transfer. These four components accounted for 47,053 jobs, $1.9 billion in labor income, and $5.2 billion in economic output.

“The Statewide Economic Impact of The University of New Mexico Report, based on data from the 2022 academic year, clearly shows that UNM is making a large economic contribution to our state and continues to drive economic and social prosperity,” said UNM President Garnett S. Stokes. “One thing is clear, The University of New Mexico is one of the state’s most valuable assets. As the state’s flagship university, we provided a staggering $5.2 billion in economic output in academic year 2022. That translates into real economic progress and prosperity not just for Lobos, but for all New Mexicans. We truly are The University for New Mexico, and very proud of that.”

Lisa Kuuttila, CEO & Chief Economic Development Officer, added, “It’s remarkable to see quantifiable data on the university’s activities because it shows just how much the university does for our state. We are especially encouraged by data on the research activities at UNM that power our local innovation ecosystem. Our mission at UNM Rainforest Innovations is to foster a Rainforest in the Desert by nurturing innovation and catalyzing economic development. This report shows a clear positive economic output spurred through commercializing inventions and fostering the creation of startup activities.”

The report used an input-output (I-O) analysis methodology based on the premise that regional economies comprise interconnected households, industries, and institutions. Each sector purchases outputs and supplies inputs to the other sectors in an interdependent, complex system or network. When there is a change in the network, for example, in employment, income, or productivity in one sector, other sectors connected to it will feel the impact.

Key report findings include the following:

  • Roughly half of UNM’s annual revenue (about $1.9 billion) came from out-of-state resources. Revenue originating outside the state generates a net positive economic impact.
  • Forty-four (44) percent of UNM’s revenue in 2022 came from clinical services provided by UNM Hospitals, Sandoval Regional Medical Center (SRMC) and UNM Medical Group.
  • UNM’s 2022 operational expenditures contributed $3.4 billion in net economic output. Employee compensation and benefits accounted for the majority of spending.
  • Net spending by the university’s 4,204 international and out-of-state students totaled $62.7 million. This supported 979 full- and part-time jobs, $27.4 million in labor income, and $93.5 million in economic output.
  • Working-age UNM alums who resided in New Mexico earned roughly $3 billion more than they would have had they not graduated from college. Approximately 34 percent of these funds were reinvested in the New Mexico economy. These funds induced an additional economic impact of $2.2 billion.
  • UNM has over 200,000 living alumni, and 58 percent of those, or about 114,800 alums, have a New Mexico home address.
  • UNM Rainforest Innovations helps inventors market their technologies by preparing the necessary documentation, identifying potential customers, and advertising that the technology is available for licensing. In 2022, UNM Rainforest Innovations entered into 47 option or licensing agreements.
  • Between 2014 and 2023, the number of New Mexico-based startups affiliated with Rainforest Innovations increased by 113 percent, growing from 23 to 49.
  • In 2022, New Mexico-based startups affiliated with UNM Rainforest Innovations employed roughly 274 New Mexicans, paid an estimated $21.6 million in wages and salaries, and generated $39.1 million in total output. The additional economic activity stimulated by these new firms resulted in 431 jobs, $29.4 million in labor income, and $64.2 million in economic output.

The university’s contributions to New Mexico’s economy, including direct expenditures on goods, services, payroll, enhanced workforce productivity, and technology transfer, make UNM one of the state’s most valuable assets. While the report captured UNM’s quantifiable contributions, it is not a comprehensive inventory of how UNM impacts economic growth and prosperity.

Other university activities with economic effects were excluded from the study due to difficulty tracking and quantifying the current available data. Some of these activities include tourism from attractions such as performances at Popejoy Hall, lectures, art exhibits, academic conferences, athletic events, and ceremonies such as graduation, homecoming, and new student orientation. Community service is another university activity that adds tremendous value to the New Mexico economy. Still, because it encompasses a broad array of initiatives, activities, and partnerships, there is no consistent way to estimate its total impact.

The report was made possible by financial support from the US Department of Commerce and Economic Development Administration. It was commissioned by UNM Rainforest Innovations, the university’s technology transfer and economic development organization. The report was prepared by Dr. Kelly O’Donnell, a research professor at the UNM School of Public Administration, and is an update of the 2020 Statewide Economic Impact of the University of New Mexico, released in August 2021.

View the full report here: https://innovations.unm.edu/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/UNM-EconomicImpact_2022-released-18Nov23.pdf

Visit the UNM Rainforest Innovations metrics page to view all past reports: https://innovations.unm.edu/about/metrics/

To read local news coverage of the event, see the following media reports:

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