By Kevin Robinson-Avila, this article is reused with permission from ABQ Journal.


The Air Force Research Lab-NM’s (AFRL) technology engagement office will be moving to the Lobo Rainforest Building in August in an effort to increase commercial opportunities with companies and research collaborations with the state’s research universities.  An important part of the Lab’s move coincides with a new partnership agreement that will train the AFRL’s engagement office staff and AFRL scientists and engineers in technology commercialization.

Universities to help spur Air Force lab’s tech transfer

The Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base is aggressively stepping up its efforts to take new technologies to market with help from New Mexico universities.

The lab is finalizing a new partnership agreement with New Mexico Tech in Socorro, which has assisted the lab for years on tech-transfer and community outreach, to broaden that collaboration into a team effort that will now include the University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University and Northern New Mexico College. The three research universities will help train AFRL scientists, engineers and community-engagement professionals in technology commercialization. That will include patenting new innovation, pushing the most marketable inventions into the tech-transfer pipeline and seeking investors and entrepreneurs to take them to market.

Northern New Mexico College, meanwhile, will work through its Small Business Development Center to help AFRL engage more with small, rural and veteran-owned businesses.

The initiative grows out of the state’s newfound groundswell of inter-institutional collaboration to move New Mexico’s economy forward through grass-roots entrepreneurship and innovation. In particular, efforts to build a high-tech research and development corridor in the heart of Albuquerque, anchored by the Innovate ABQ hub at Broadway and Central Downtown, inspired the Air Force lab to reach out to the universities, said Matthew Fetrow, director of AFRL’s technology engagement office.

“Real statewide collaboration is rapidly becoming the norm, rather than the exception,” Fetrow said. “It’s created a new, deliberate focus on our part to work with other institutions.”

In fact, AFRL is already participating in Innovate New Mexico, a collaborate effort among the research universities and national labs to jointly promote their technologies to investors and entrepreneurs. That includes twice-annual “technology showcase” events, the latest of which took place in April in Albuquerque.

The UNM Science and Technology Corp., the university’s tech-transfer office, will play a central role in helping the Air Force lab. STC will launch a multi-pronged training program this fall for AFRL personnel, said STC President and CEO Lisa Kuuttila.