UNM Rainforest Innovations

In this series, we’re reconnecting with former interns at UNM Rainforest Innovations (UNMRI) to explore their professional journeys and career paths. This month we’re catching up with Christian Slough, the new Entrepreneurship Coordinator for the New Mexico Economic Development Department’s Office of Strategy, Science, and Technology. His past roles range from supporting the Mayor’s Civil Engagement Office in Albuquerque, to co-founding a medical device startup company, and working with Build With Robots.

Christian Slough joined UNM Rainforest Innovations (UNMRI) as an Innovation Intern during his last semester at the University of New Mexico where he was completing his Master of Business Administration. As an Innovation Intern, he conducted in-depth prior art searches, market analyses, and identified potential commercial partners for local technology startups. Additionally, he drafted non-confidential summaries to position university technologies for external licensing and partnerships.

Working for UNM Rainforest Innovations opened his eyes to the world of technology transfer and statewide economic development, where he started to envision a career path.

“The internship showed me that a career in technology and innovation is feasible. Before spending time with technology entrepreneurs, the words ‘start-up’ or ‘innovation’ felt outside of my skill set… UNMRI showed me is that my skills in business development and market research apply anywhere. The fundamentals of understanding an ecosystem, the stakeholders, and how companies are positioned in a market are valuable across any industry.”

“The team at UNMRI was extremely supportive in teaching me what questions to ask about a technology, introducing me to entrepreneurs in the NM start-up ecosystem, and giving all the interns time to attend workshops on tech transfer and pitch competitions. I can definitely say it changed the course of my life.”

After graduating with his MBA and finishing his internship at UNMRI, Christian had plans to serve in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic with his partner. However, unforeseen circumstances soon diverted their plans as the COVID-19 pandemic quickly swept across the world in spring 2020. Instead, he chose to serve his local community by spending a year at the Mayor’s Civil Engagement Office in Albuquerque as an AmeriCorps VISTA where he helped grow and align their volunteer ecosystem.

“At the same time, I was pursuing a venture with my partner that we started during the Spring 2020 semester for a medical device start-up. After winning the 2020 Spring CTSC Health Hack-A-Thon we enrolled in the UNMRI Accelerator Program where I was introduced to a wonderful mentor (Stu Rose). The Accelerator Program exposed me to Build With Robots (BWR) where I ultimately ended up after my 1-year service ended with AmeriCorps. I spent 3 years at BWR as a Business Development Intern, eventually progressing to Business Development Manager. I recently transitioned to my role as Entrepreneurship Coordinator at the New Mexico Economic Development Department’s Office of Strategy, Science, and Technology.”

The New Mexico EDD’s Office of Strategy, Science, and Technology (OSST) was created to connect New Mexico’s innovation infrastructure to the commercial market. They also incorporate wider strategic initiatives, including entrepreneurship support and federal funding opportunities to encourage technology-based industries in and to New Mexico.

As the new Entrepreneurship Coordinator for the OSST, Christian has a variety of duties related to our entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

“I am still getting started here but I am responsible for supporting entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses to help them launch and scale. The type of support ranges from providing technical support, strengthening policies and programs that support entrepreneurship, partnering with research institutions and universities, identifying federal grant opportunities, and more. The goal of my role is to amplify the entrepreneurial work we have going on here in New Mexico, to diversify our economy and generate more opportunities for New Mexicans.”

When asked what he was most proud of in his career so far, he responded:

“The proudest moment I’ve had in my career is twofold: 1) Proving to myself that a career in technology is not just for engineers, Ph.D.’s and individuals coming from places like Yale or Harvard. This a serious stigma New Mexico faces in our workforce pipeline. We have tremendous talent in our state, exposing students to the roles we have here, as well as the skills and pathways to get there is important to keeping and growing our talent.

“2) Sharing my career pathway: Much like above, I have spoken with students from K-12 to graduate classes across New Mexico to share what UNMRI is doing here. I take pride is sharing that I grew up with parents who started a successful paintless dent repair business, that I went to public school, and that I’m born and raised New Mexican. Each of these experiences prepared me to for a career in technology – and if I can do it so can many of the other New Mexicans entering the workforce today.”

We are tremendously proud of Christian for all his accomplishments and wish him all the best in his new role as the Entrepreneurship Coordinator at the NM EDD’s Office of Strategy, Science, and Technology!

If you would like to learn more about student internship opportunities at UNMRI, visit: https://innovations.unm.edu/careers-internships/ 

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