Interview with Lisa Kuuttila, President & Chief Economic Officer


UNM Rainforest Innovations (formerly known as STC.UNM)


UNM Rainforest Innovations was first created in 1995 (under the name Science & Technology Corporation) by the University of New Mexico Board of Regents to commercialize university inventions. We currently have 16 staff members and 7 student interns. 


To foster a Rainforest in the Desert, UNM Rainforest Innovations nurtures innovation and catalyzes economic development.

Also, our vision is to play a vital role in New Mexico’s economic development and to be an innovator in technology commercialization worldwide. As a New Mexico University Research Park and Economic Development Act organization, UNM Rainforest Innovations does this by:

  • Protecting technologies developed at UNM and transferring these technologies to the marketplace, via starting new companies and transferring technologies to established companies;
  • Connecting the business community to UNM for access to expertise, facilities, and research activities; and
  • Facilitating UNM’s role as a contributor to New Mexico’s economic development.

What does your company do/what industry do you represent?

UNM Rainforest Innovations is the technology-transfer and economic development organization for the University of New Mexico (UNM). We work to protect and commercialize technologies developed at UNM by filing patents and copyrights and transferring them to the marketplace. We connect the business community (companies, entrepreneurs, and investors) to these UNM technologies for licensing opportunities and the creation of start-up companies.

In 2013, we also began implementing UNM’s economic development initiatives. With the guidance and input from the UNM Rainforest Forum and the UNM Economic Development Council, we support economic development through innovation and entrepreneurship, technology transfer, talent and workforce development, and community development.

What makes your company or organization unique?

Our organization is unique because we work across so many different parts of the university and business community. We also work to bring those people together in order to create opportunities from those partnerships.

Is your business growing and do you plan to hire in the next 6 months?

Certain areas of activity are growing within our organization, but at this time we are not growing in terms of staff members. business is growing but there are no plans to hire in the near future.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way you do business?

Many of our events have moved online, with some resulting in better attendance rates than before. As we transition back to working in-person and holding events, we will likely continue to do some things online and introduce hybrid models to reach a larger audience. 

Share a goal you set for 2021.

To begin the Right to Start project, which is a state-wide initiative to foster and promote New Mexico’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, aided by Victor Hwang author of the “The Rainforest: The secret to building the next Silicon Valley.”

Describe where you see technology in the year 2030.

This is very difficult to predict. Perhaps one of the biggest transformations will be the use of AI in our daily work lives. 

Where do you stand – red, green, or Christmas?

We received mixed answers, but most of our team prefers green chile! Many of our staff also noted that it depended on the type of food it’s served with.

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For more information about membership with the NMTC, contact Mary Tieman.
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