UNM Rainforest Innovations

Registration will open soon for the fall 2024 cohort!

The Rainforest Accelerator encourages and supports entrepreneurial researchers from the University of New Mexico to explore commercial viability of their technologies, create new start-up businesses, generate business models, and submit proposals to other funding opportunities.

Administered by UNM Rainforest Innovations, the goal of the Rainforest Accelerator is to assist teams of faculty and/or post-doctoral or graduate students to go outside of their laboratories and into the marketplace where they can learn first-hand about entrepreneurship while they explore and validate the commercial landscape surrounding their innovation.

There are two cohorts per year with a maximum of 10 teams. The teams (which may include faculty, students, entrepreneurs, other members and mentors (mentors provided by the Rainforest Accelerator)) will receive funding ($3,000) to develop an idea, and complete extensive market discovery for a disclosed UNM technology.

The outcomes of program projects include a recommendation based on an assessment of the viability of the overall business model and substantial first-hand evidence for or against product-market fit, with a definition of the customer segments and corresponding value propositions.

The training curriculum follows the Lean LaunchPad pedagogy which incorporates a flipped classroom, experiential learning, and team-based learning. The curriculum also incorporates training from the online Kauffman Founders School entrepreneurial training.

Applications will open soon

Apply by September 2, 2024 at 11:59 pm for the fall cohort.

Is your technology ready for the market?
  • Receive $3,000 for to fund market discovery efforts and proof-of-concept prototyping
  • Explore the transition of your technology to the marketplace through entrepreneurial training from the Rainforest Accelerator
  • Determine the value proposition, customer, the size of the market, and market trends for your technology.
  • Receive a dedicated mentor to provide one-on-one guidance through the program and the responsible Innovation Manager from UNM Rainforest Innovations will also participate
  • Learn to use tools such as Slack and Zoom
  • Conduct 25-100 discovery interviews, provide a formal presentation to investors at the end of the program to receive feedback on the commercialization opportunity of your technology. 
  • Must be a faculty, staff, student, post-doc or other member at the University of New Mexico
  • Have disclosed the underlying technology in your application to UNM Rainforest Innovations in an invention or copyright disclosure form before submitting an application.
  • Please inquire if you have any questions about eligibility.
Funding Information:

Teams must complete the minimum requirements in the program to receive the full $3,000 of funding. Funds will require certain documentation and/or milestones to be achieved in order to be fully distributed. All federal, state and local taxes, if any, are the sole responsibility of the awardees. All federal, state and local laws and regulations apply.  

Lean LaunchPad Curriculum

Each selected team will participate in weekly trainings using the Lean LaunchPad (LLP) curriculum and methodology.

Created, developed, and taught by entrepreneurs, the Lean Launch is an experience-based program focused around a “business model canvas”, where teams make hypotheses about important aspects of their business model, such as who their key partners and main markets will be, go out and interview experts in the field, and then come back and refine their hypotheses based on the data from the interviews.

Selected teams will leave the workshop possessing a solid understanding of what is necessary to achieve an economic impact with a particular innovation.

Fall 2024 Cohort Details:

The program will run on Mondays, 4:00pm-5:00pm from September 9, 2024 – October 28, 2024 online via Zoom meetings. The Final Presentations will be October 28, 2024, 4pm-7pm (tentative time depending on number teams) at the Lobo Rainforest Building.

Application Requirements:
  • Provide contact information of all UNM team members (UNM lead and any additional members)
  • A description of technology or idea
  • A summary of the problem being solved


Reach out to Cara Michaliszyn at UNM Rainforest Innovations via email

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