UNM Rainforest Innovations

Albuquerque, New Mexico – On January 9, UNM Rainforest Innovations hosted the UNM Business and Economic Summit with a focus on envisioning New Mexico’s future entrepreneurial ecosystem. There were over 220 attendees, both in-person at the Lobo Rainforest Building and online via Zoom, gathered to hear eight different talks and panel discussions from local leaders, entrepreneurs, and stakeholders.

Lisa Kuuttila, CEO & Chief Economic Development Officer of UNM Rainforest Innovations, stated: “We are very pleased by the turnout of this year’s summit, which was the largest to date, and we’re grateful for the participation of all our speakers, panelists, and moderators. These summits would not be possible without the participation and contributions of all those in attendance.”

UNM President Garnet Stokes kicked off the event followed by welcome remarks by Howie Morales, Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico.

The first talk of the day explored future economic trends in the entrepreneurial ecosystem by Stuart Rose, a Serial Entrepreneur and Founder of the BioScience Center and coworking space FatPipe, and Steven Weinstein, PhD, General Partner of America’s Frontier Fund. Lisa Kuuttila moderated a Q&A session after the talk.

Next was a panel discussion that included local entrepreneurs to explore New Mexico’s current robust and diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem. Moderated by Thomas Chepucavage, CEO of Flow Aluminum, the panel included Zachariah Ben, Owner of Bidii Baby Foods; Vince Kadlubek, Founder of Meow Wolf; Alex Hafez, VP of Operations & Corporate Development of Circular Genomics; and Nerissa Whittington, Principal of bigbyte.cc.

Afterwards was a lunchtime panel on investment in future entrepreneurial economic development and was moderated by Lieutenant Governor Howie Morales of the State of New Mexico. Members of the panel included Representative T. Ryan Lane, District 3; Representative Javier Martínez, District 20; and Senator George K. Muñoz, District 4.

The next panel discussion explored the topic of growing future start-ups and was moderated by Harold Lavender, Chair of the Council Investment Committee with the New Mexico State Investment Council. Members of the panel included Adam Hammer, Co-Founder and President of Roadrunner Venture Studios; Ward Hendon, General Partner of Dangerous Ventures; David Perez, Chairman of New Mexico Angels; and Nicole Johnny, Investment Associate of Raven Indigenous Capital Partners.

Afterwards was a panel on preparing New Mexico for new opportunities and was moderated by Dale Dekker, Founder of Dekker Perich Sabatini. Member of the panel included Nora Sackett, Director of the Office of Strategy, Science, & Technology at NMEDD; Richard Luarkie, CEO of Blue Stone Strategy Partners; and Sandra Begay, The University of New Mexico Board of Regents Emeritus and Chair of the Board of Directors at UNM Rainforest Innovations.

The final talk of the day was Reflection on Future Economy of New Mexico by James Holloway, PhD, Provost & Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at UNM and Doug Ziedonis, Executive Vice President of UNM Health Sciences & CEO of the UNM Health System.

On behalf of UNM Rainforest Innovations, we would like to thank all of the speakers, panelists, moderators, and guests for their attendance and participation at the 2024 UNM Business and Economic Summit.

View the video recordings on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLk_NMEbD1Ez-hxkKHHMOhomqB4m8VmAh1

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