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The Venture Acceleration Fund (VAF) is accepting applications for the 2014 calendar year, due March 21.
Selected companies will receive awards of up to $100,000 to assist in taking their innovations to market more quickly. Companies located in the Northern New Mexico counties of Los Alamos, Santa Fe, Sandoval, Rio Arriba, Taos, San Miguel and Mora are given preference for funding, as are projects associated with Los Alamos technology or expertise.
Since its inception in 2006, VAF has assisted 39 New Mexico companies through marketing and technology development activities such as proof-of-concept, prototyping, developing market share, product launching or leveraging funding.
Los Alamos National Security, LLC (LANS), the company that manages Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), represents the largest investment in the fund. Los Alamos County contributed $25,000 to the fund in 2013 and will continue its partnership in 2014. A new addition to the investor pool for this year is New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).
“2013 was another competitive year, as interest in the VAF program continues to build. A great trend is the addition of new investors, which should translate to increased quality and impact of the program,” said David Pesiri, Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Division Leader of the Feynman Center for Innovation.
“LANS has invested $2.7 million into VAF since 2006. We anticipate that 2014 will produce the highest number of qualified proposals we have seen,” said Kurt Steinhaus, director of the Community Programs Office at LANL.
Two information sessions will be held for people to ask questions and become better informed on the VAF process:
• Tuesday, Feb. 25, 9-10:30 a.m., Santa Fe Business Incubator (3900 Paseo del Sol, Santa Fe)
• Wednesday, Feb. 26, 9-10:30 a.m., Northern NM Citizens Advisory Board (10A Cities of Gold Road, Pojoaque)
Registration for these sessions is recommended but not required.
VAF winners are not expected to pay back the award unless the company is acquired, achieves certain revenue goals or leaves New Mexico.
The repayment trigger was instituted in 2013 to help make the fund sustainable in order to support future entrepreneurs. Those companies not selected for a VAF award are often connected with other resources and professionals who can help them meet their goals.