New Mexico Investment Council commits a record $100 million in funds

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (AP) – The New Mexico State Investment Council has pledged $100 million for a technology-focused nonprofit, the council’s largest commitment to a single venture fund.

The council on Tuesday unanimously approved the investment in America’s Frontier Fund, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

America’s Frontier Fund, or AFF, is the “premier investment platform dedicated to revitalizing our country’s innovation and manufacturing excellence in critical high-technology sectors,” according to its website. It combines private and public resources. Technology sectors that the fund sees as potentially transformative include microelectronics, artificial intelligence and new energy.

The money will come from the council’s private equity program, which routes money from New Mexico’s Severance Tax Permanent Fund to venture firms that support local startups.

In a presentation to the council, AFF CEO Gilman Louie said the company plans to build a “venture studio” in Albuquerque that could be a national headquarters for satellite studios in and outside of New Mexico. The studio would provide support to major technology-focused research institutions and encourage new start-ups.

AFF investors, scientists, technologists and policy leaders will scout research into technologies that new companies can bring to consumers, AFF CEO Gilman Louie told SIC Tuesday morning. The Land of Enchantment could be an alternative Silicon Valley, Louie said.

“(Our vision) is to make New Mexico a global leader in technological innovation and make New Mexico the center of a dynamic network of venture studios in the United States,” Louie told the council. “…We believe that New Mexico should be a world leader in cutting-edge technology because New Mexico is at the center of many of America’s new scientific research discoveries.”

Harold Lavender, a council member who chairs its investment committee, said AFF and its practical leaders are outstanding.

“I believe it’s entirely possible that several viable, investable, and potentially very successful companies will emerge from this initiative each year,” Lavender told the Journal. “These are companies that employ New Mexicans and will stay here in the state.”

Some of AFF’s high-profile supporters include ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt, PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, former US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, and other federal agency executives.

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