Engage technology ecosystem in Santa Fe

City of Santa Fe
University of New Mexico



Economic Recovery, Equity, Resilience

Procurement Method:

University Partner:

University of New Mexico

Partnership Description

The City of Santa Fe will be working with Nancy Lewis (Director of the Canopy for Creative Collaboration), Wellington Spetic (Director of New Mexico for Good Program), and Manuel R. Montoya (Associate Professor), at the University of New Mexico. Utilizing design thinking methodologies, the research team will study the current entrepreneurship landscape and technology ecosystem in Santa Fe to identify needs and potential solutions within the community. Along with the research team at UNM, a number of community partners will also be supporting the effort such as Santa Fe Innovates, Los Alamos National Lab, and the New Mexico Economic Development Department.


The City of Santa Fe is seeking a collaborative solution to engage technology experts and executives for our younger generations to start companies and lead social innovation, leveraging resources (e.g., national labs, accelerators, educational institutions and investors).


Santa Fe County serves as an economic engine for much of Northern New Mexico. Longstanding challenges stemming from a lack of innovation industries or high wage jobs, endemic poverty, tourist based economy, and consistent “brain drain” have created an inequitable place. This is exacerbated by the pandemic’s devastating effects on our region’s vulnerable residents, existing small businesses and our burgeoning entrepreneurs who struggle to find the capital and support they need to thrive. 

While many communities strive to recover from the pandemic, Santa Fe endeavors to achieve more than a recovery: we aim to invest in the future innovation economy by building on our inherent tech and creative assets to “leap frog” into the industries and jobs of the future. 

Anecdotally, many people feel it is a City divided between an affluent aging population and a younger, less educated population with fewer opportunities to prosper. Many businesses complain about their inability to retain and attract employees; and long time families see their young people leaving to bigger cities. 

Whilst there are a vast array of local entrepreneurial support organizations, their efforts are not coalesced and there is an untapped potential in our local technology assets. 

While City of Santa Fe is well positioned in the science, art, and nature, we struggle with how to resolve the following issues:

  • Residents under 21 and over 55 and few in between
  • Lack of diversity in mentorship and new entrepreneurs
  • Economy focused on tourism and arts
  • Tradition over innovation
  • Incohesiveness
  • Lab tech is propriety and hard to license
  • Lack of and risk-averse investors (angel, venture, and impact)
  • Disengaged entrepreneurial ecosystem
  • Silos between entrepreneurial support organizations
  • We have an entrepreneurial ecosystem (not necessarily a tech ecosystem)

Academic research teams will be able to:

Academic teams can also access existing assets:

  • Los Alamos National Labs and Sandia Labs Existing labs (e.g., LANL, Sandia)
  • Existing tech companies (e.g., Pebble Labs, Descartes Labs, Flow Science, Wildflower, Falling Colors, Open Eye)
  • Santa Fe Business Incubator
  • Santa Fe Innovates Accelerator
  • Santa Fe Community College
  • Santa Fe Institute
  • Community foundations (2)
  • UNM Anderson

Requirements & Outcomes

The City of Santa Fe is seeking to work with an academic team to understand:

  • How social innovation/entrepreneurship can be a motivating force for Santa Fe
  • Reasons for a lack of diversity in entrepreneurship, founders and mentors; including age, gender, race
  • How to shift tech experts attitudes from disengaged to championing entrepreneurships
  • Identify social and environmental problems for entrepreneurs to solve in a profitable way
  • Develop a model for data-driven problem definition and potential solution development
  • Create a framework for engaged entrepreneurial ecosystem

Our long term goals include:

  • How to create an Innovation Village that connects to regional Innovation Hub (Los Alamos & Sandia Labs)
  • Pairing business savvy investors with scientists to capitalize on proprietary technology at labs and bring it to market to solve social challenges
  • App to connect capital with local tech companies
  • Database geared for engagement

STIR Labs Research Challenges Published

Learn how you can tackle the challenges at our informational webinar