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NM’s space industry opportunity for growth

Editor’s Note: Throughout 2022, New Mexico Angels’ members, investors and start-up owners will be writing columns on economic development and start-up opportunities in the state. The Angels unite individual investors to pool their resources, providing seed and early-stage capital to startup companies.



“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” — Steve Jobs, co-founder, CEO, Chairman, Apple Inc.

We could use a little more perseverance here in the land of enchantment.

Our ability to support and grow startups has long been a challenge we can’t quite seem to perfect. We have tried a lot of things over the years, some with moderate success, but sadly, just when a company starts to get going with large contracts and opportunities, we then see a headline that they will be moving to California or Texas or some other state that can better support their growth.

This is a far too familiar story for New Mexico entrepreneurship.

Why? It usually comes down to funding — who’s paying the bills when a start-up gets funding.

New Mexico has largely lacked an investor’s community that can make significant investments into growing companies. As a result, the dollars pour in from other states, with the demands to move closer to the dollars so they can keep a close eye on their venture. There have been efforts to bring venture capital to New Mexico and for a while they found success, but what they needed was a robust angel investment community to assist in the early stages of growth.

Once again New Mexico stands on the brink of entrepreneurship growth and success from the rapidly expanding space industry. We have quietly been the home of space innovation through the work being done at the Air Force Research Laboratory and now Spaceport America, but New Mexico stands on the edge of being the leading state of space innovation and the future of the space in general. While the pandemic kept us all at home and focused on screens, AFRL was busy building its assets to support space and directed energy entrepreneurship as a matter of national security.

Q Station, located in the heart of Nob Hill, was just one of the projects dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs. The goal is to support space and directed energy entrepreneurs so that they can help AFRL more rapidly create innovation that can assist the military and the commercial industry. The first cohort of companies came from all over the world because the potential they saw in working with AFRL, and the opportunity they saw in New Mexico. To date three have chosen to permanently locate here in New Mexico.

They chose to locate here because this is where the real work in space is being done, but will they stay? We hope so, but it’s up to our community to keep them. We have to make those investments; we have to support that growth and we have to make sure that the space industry does indeed grow and flourish here. New Mexico Angels has already connected with these companies and begun to work hand in hand with them on their financial goals. By assisting these companies at their earliest stages, the hope is to help shape them into companies that can be leaders in space innovation, and leaders in economic growth for our state.

The opportunity to make New Mexico the place for space innovation will take more than Q Station, AFRL and the New Mexico Angels, it will take a state that understands the importance of entrepreneurship to our long-term economic health. It is vital to our economy to grow our own companies that create new jobs for our economy, and we have the good fortune of being the birth place of cutting-edge innovation.

Will this be our chance? Will this be the time where our perseverance pays off for us?

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