Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
A broad group of some of the nation’s top scientific, business and political leaders have united in the new venture capital firm America’s Frontier Fund to begin rebuilding America’s global technology leadership, and they have chosen New Mexico as a launching pad.
To kick off the initiative, the State Council for Investment approved a $100 million investment in an initial $500 million fund that AFF is currently raising to remove emerging cutting-edge technologies from national labs and research universities and commercialize these innovations through new start-ups. backed by AFF’s capital and expertise. The SIC is the first public entity in the country to directly commit money to the AFF fund, and it is the largest investment in a venture capital fund made to date through the private equity program of the council, which pumps money from New Mexico’s Permanent Departure Tax Fund into venture capital firms that invest in local startups.
Over time, AFF expects to raise significantly more public and private capital for its national initiative. But SIC’s early engagement puts New Mexico at the center of what could become a major catalyst for critical high-tech development across the country, with New Mexico positioned right in the center.
AFF is the brainchild of some of the nation’s top leaders, who want to stem the decades-long decline in U.S. technical and industrial superiority that has left the country vulnerable to emerging challenges from competing nations, especially China. The pandemic has clearly exposed these vulnerabilities, throwing supply chains into chaos and undermining critical industries. And this year, the war in Ukraine has further shown the hardships caused by America’s and the world’s dependence on key natural resources like oil and gas from aggressive and hostile nations like Russia.
The crux of the problem, according to AFF leaders, is the erosion of local development of emerging 21st century technologies that power today’s high-tech industries and that will enable social progress in the future. , economic and political necessary to cement the United States. leadership and national defense in the future. This includes everything from microelectronics, artificial intelligence and advanced manufacturing to quantum science, advanced communications, new energy generation and synthetic biology.
In his address to CIS on Tuesday, AFF CEO Gilman Louie called these things “cutting edge technologies” that will define the future. Taken together, they represent “the dawn of a new technological revolution,” Louie told council members, and the United States cannot afford to be left behind.
“Leadership in these technologies will not only ensure economic prosperity, but also national security,” Louie said. “These technologies will impact all facets of life, from healthcare, food production, energy and the environment to education, entertainment, work, commerce, defense and scientific discovery.”
The federal government took a major first step to begin rebuilding the nation’s technological leadership in August when the US Congress approved the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, which authorizes $280 billion in funding to expand domestic manufacturing of semi -drivers, research and development of new technologies, and workforce training. And now the public and private sectors must come together to leverage this initiative, pouring far more money and talent into technology development at all levels, Louie said.
A national strategy
Doing this requires a scientific approach to investing that combines the expertise of leading scientists, technologists and political leaders with the seasoned insight of seasoned investors and business executives.
And to facilitate these efforts, AFF has developed a process called “Frontiercast,” which uses advanced data analytics to help produce technology roadmaps.
“Frontiercast tells us what to invest in, and our Frontierscape provides us with a map that helps us define where and who to invest in,” Louie said.
This process brought AFF to New Mexico, given its extensive scientific infrastructure. This includes the state’s national laboratories and three leading research universities.
“New Mexico has the highest concentration of scientific talent per capita,” Louie said. “It has untapped world-class research and development and patents.”
To tap into this mass of emerging discovery and innovation, AFF plans to create a network of “venture studios” around New Mexico – dubbed Roadrunner Studios – which will be located next to key research centers and whose headquarters will be in Albuquerque. AFF will staff Roadrunner Studios with scientists, technologists and business people who together will comb through the labs for the most promising technologies that can be brought to market through local startups supported by the AFF investment and comprehensive support services.
This will make New Mexico the launch pad for AFF’s national strategy, converting the Albuquerque venture capital studio into the corporate headquarters for a chain of studios that AFF will build in key locations across the States. -United. The studios will virtually connect local and national teams in a collaborative effort to unlock technology innovation in targeted communities – especially in places traditionally overlooked by venture capitalists – to potentially spark a new wave of new technology development. peak.
The goal is to bring together national and local talent in the heart of the country – outside of the traditional venture capital strongholds on the east and west coasts – to build cutting-edge innovation centers that could benefit from financial support from the AFF while attracting investment from other domestic venture capital funds. .
“Roadrunner Studios will serve as the hub of a nationwide virtual Silicon Valley connecting other centers of scientific, technical, and business excellence across the United States, networking new and growing technology ecosystems across the countries in which (AFF) will also invest,” Louie said.
It starts in NM
With SIC’s new $100 million commitment, AFF will immediately begin building the Roadrunner Studios network, said AFF general partner Norman Winarsky, a longtime California-based investor.
“We will create a series of hubs with New Mexico as our headquarters supported by technical resources and talent, venture capitalists, entrepreneurial advisors, coaches and legal systems for business development,” said Winarsky told the Journal. “In today’s world, everything can be done remotely, with New Mexico being the central hub of Silicon Valley 2.0. I live in Palo Alto and I think now is the time.
The AFF Network will target transformative technologies that require “patient investment” with significant funding to turn them into large, successful companies over time, Winarsky added.
“We want to build transformative companies, the ones that create technological breakthroughs,” Winarsky said. “We will go for royalty.”
Roadrunner Studios will unearth promising technologies from national labs and state universities, said Steve Weinstein, general partner.
“We’re going to find the technology and the people and build a business around them,” Weinstein told the Journal. “It’s our core business. We have done this several times before in many other places.
New Mexico’s time is now, Louie said.
“He has the talent, the leadership and the science,” he said. “(AFF wants to) harness New Mexico’s talent, motivation, and communities to help the United States lead the world in the next technological revolution.”
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