Capital is the lifeblood of early stage companies. Thanks to the STC.UNM STC Co-Investment Fund, EcoPesticides International has just received a significant infusion. STC has invested $89,000 in the Albuquerque-based startup company that has licensed University of New Mexico UNM technology to make biologic-based “green” pesticides more effective in protecting against harmful pests while doing no harm to the environment. The STC Co-Investment Fund was established in April 2014 when UNM Regents voted unanimously to create the fund to co-invest with local angel firms and venture capital funds in startup companies using technology developed at UNM. STC.UNM, the university’s technology transfer and economic development organization, administers the fund. A co-investment committee reviews requests for funding and can invest up to $100,000. The EcoPesticides investment is the third deal made since the fund was established. Dr. Ravi Durvasula created the technology with co-inventor Adam Forshaw in his lab at the UNM Health Sciences Center. The New Mexico Angels recognized the commercial potential of the technology, established EcoPesticides through the New Mexico Startup Factory, provided early stage capital, and ultimately secured an exclusive global license from STC. Commenting on the investment, STC CEO Lisa Kuuttila said the investment in EcoPesticides reflects the intent of the UNM Regents when it established the Co-Investment Fund. “UNM has worked diligently to attract faculty like Dr. Durvasula who have the talent and knowledge to create technology with commercial potential. Having the Fund allows STC to provide much needed seed capital to sustain promising startup companies like EcoPesticides that could grow into larger, job-creating companies for New Mexico.” EcoPesticides CEO Les Stewart said the Fund committee was thorough in its evaluation of the investment opportunity. “The investment by STC represents a significant validation of the value proposition of our technology given the rigorous review and diligence of the Fund committee members. We’re thrilled that their conclusions resulted in an investment in EcoPesticides.” In addition to the STC investment, EcoPesticides has attracted investments from private investors, the New Mexico Angels and a venture capital fund in Las Vegas. The company’s technology trials in North Africa and in Montana are showing positive results. Dr. Durvasula serves as EcoPesticides’ chief scientific officer and Forshaw is chief technology officer. According to STC, there are currently 54 active start-up companies based on UNM technology and 32 of them are located in New Mexico. In 2013, STC spun out nine startup companies with the goal of creating up to ten new companies in 2014. Early investments are critical to the survival and growth of startup companies.
The University of Southern California was among a group of universities awarded a $15 million grant from the National Science Foundation to invest in and