Artistic rendition of the future Lobo Rainforest

Second Major Tech Commercialization Entity Confirmed at Innovate ABQ

City Alive Aligned Contributions, Education, Entrepreneurship, Science, Technology, Technology Commercialization

Second Major Tech Commercialization Entity Confirmed at Innovate ABQ


The Air Force Research Laboratory will be the relocating their Technology Engagement Office to the UNM Rainforest, making it the second major technology commercialization entity to locate at the site.

“This is a really big deal for the UNM Rainforest project. I can’t say that enough. It is a significant catch and exactly the kind of partnership we want to foster at the site.” Thomas Neale, Director of Real Estate, The University of New Mexico.

The ground is broken and construction is clamoring to build the UNM Rainforest Building, the first building on the new Innovate ABQ site. And a new tenant of the Rainforest Building was announced last month, heightening excitement as we near opening day this coming August. The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) will be the relocating their Technology Engagement Office to the UNM Rainforest, making it the second major technology commercialization entity to locate at the site.

The Rainforest Building’s name—inspired by the idea of a biome—is shaping up to be an apt symbol. Through partnerships between the University of New Mexico and public and private entities, we can expect to see a diverse and interdependent entrepreneurial ecosystem rise in Albuquerque’s downtown.

The AFRL Technology Engagement Office’s move has been met with a great deal of excitement from UNM and economic development communities alike. It will grow the opportunities for students and faculty to engage in technology commercialization, and will also increase opportunities for UNM students to develop job connections. “Having AFRL work with Innovate ABQ is huge,” said Thomas Neale, Director of Real Estate for the University of New Mexico. “The goal is to bring in some of our best and brightest STEM students, putting them in close proximity to collide with entrepreneurs and scientists that are trying to partner with our students.”

Another benefit of AFRL’s Technology Engagement Office locating at the Rainforest Building is the huge impact it can have on UNM’s ability to increase visibility and attract top talent to Albuquerque. “Not too many universities are that lucky in the country,” said Christos Christodoulou, Incoming Dean of the UNM School of Engineering. “We are lucky to have AFRL in our backyard.” With more talent in our local ecosystem, we are more likely to see research dollars stay in our state, said Christondoulou, and more technology will reach the commercial market.

“We are all just getting started,” said Neale. “There is so much great science going on in the state with Sandia, Kirtland, NM State University, UNM, the Air Force Research Lab and Los Alamos. Albuquerque is positioned to be the hub of transferring tech to private sector.”


About Innovate ABQ: Innovate ABQ is being developed as a premier Downtown innovation district for researchers, inventors and entrepreneurs. This new entrepreneurial hub will be anchored by a core research and business incubation site at Central and Broadway.

About Air Force Research Laboratory: New Mexico is home for two of the nine Air Force Research Laboratory directorates located around the country: Directed Energy and Space Vehicles. These directorates lead the discovery, development and integration of warfighting technologies for air, space and cyberspace. The AFRL Tech Engagement Office serves as a conduit, bringing the two directorates “out from behind the fence” at Kirkland Air Force Base by working directly with industry, engaging small businesses on how to work with AFRL and by cultivating the next generation of scientific talent.

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