Albuquerque is doing something audacious; it is building a rainforest in the middle of a desert. However, instead of millions of plant and animal species, this rainforest will be a place for researchers, innovators, and entrepreneurs to thrive.
It is an ecosystem for innovation: a place where Albuquerque can grow its own talent. Reflecting on the writing of author Victor W. Hwang (2012), the goal is not to script the creation and evolution of new ideas, but rather to create a rich and flexible environment that allows innovation to be born and thrive in unpredictable ways. This concept is founded on principles of trust, collaboration, and experimentation.
The University of New Mexico (UNM) has made a commitment to support economic development activities in the City of Albuquerque and throughout Bernalillo County. One way it is accomplishing this is through new partnerships aimed at building a district for research and innovation within the city. UNM has a proven track record of commercializing research activities, but by focusing its energy in partnership with the City, County and other organizations, the University is aiming to help ignite a more vigorous local and regional economy. Such a district will help retain students and researchers in Albuquerque well beyond their tenure at UNM and facilitate the creation of new businesses and jobs. In turn, a flourishing city with improved innovation-based employment opportunities will help attract a new generation of high-caliber students, faculty, researchers, innovators, and entrepreneurs.
Innovate ABQ is a core site that is a catalyst for this district. Founded on a seven-acre former First Baptist Church site purchased by UNM in 2014, it is envisioned as a hub for research and innovation activities and programs throughout the region. Its plan, illustrated in this document, is aimed at maximizing the opportunity to accommodate development for this purpose while also creating a place that is highly integrated with the city and capable of attracting tomorrow’s researchers and innovators.