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Lab Partnership Program Seeks Small-Business Groups Needing Technical Help

The New Mexico Small Business Assistance (NMSBA) Program is looking for groups of companies facing common challenges that could use technical assistance from researchers at Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories.

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The New Mexico Small Business Assistance (NMSBA) Program is looking for groups of companies facing common challenges that could use technical assistance from researchers at Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories.

NMSBA is soliciting proposals for 2013 leveraged projects, in which two or more small businesses request assistance as a group.

The program — a partnership of the two federal laboratories and the state of New Mexico — connects scientists, engineers and others with New Mexico small businesses to solve critical challenges and promote economic development.

While individual businesses can apply for help throughout the year, group projects are considered once a year. The deadline for submission is June 8.

Businesses that apply must explain the problem they face, the expertise NMSBA offers that can’t be found in the private sector for a reasonable cost and the economic benefit they expect as an outcome. Successful applicants will be invited to give a 10-minute presentation about their project to the NMSBA Advisory Council for final review.

Information sessions will be held in the following communities:

  • May 16, 1-2 p.m. at the New Mexico State University (NMSU) Business Complex in Las Cruces.
  • May 16, 4:30-5:30 p.m. at High Desert Discovery District in Santa Fe.
  • May 17, 12-1 p.m. at the Innovation Parkway Office Center in Albuquerque.
  • May 18, 1-2 p.m. at New Mexico Tech in Socorro.
  • May 22, 1-2 p.m. at the NMSU Campus in Carlsbad.

NMSBA funds researchers’ time and incidental materials. The group projects must be completed in one year and can receive $20,000-$100,000, depending on the number of companies involved and their locations.

A group project that was honored by the NMSBA at its annual Innovation Celebration on May 1 centered in Guadalupe and San Miguel counties in eastern New Mexico, where livestock health was being compromised by water quality from deep underground wells, the area’s primary water supply. Cattle in the area have shorter life expectancies and lower reproduction rates. One rancher lost more than 20 calves due to poor water from one well.

McKenzie Land and Livestock, Singleton Ranches and Don Thompson Ranch asked NMSBA for help. Tests by Sandia’s Michael Schuhen and Brian Dwyer found an endemic bacterium that was releasing sulfur into the water.

The researchers found partners with expertise in water quality and improvement. Al Bierle of Western Environmental Management Group studied the feasibility of installing low-pressure reverse osmosis (RO) to treat the water and provided cost data from his experience with dairy cows. Jay Glasscott of Arrakis weighed in with expertise on membrane selection for an RO system. And Joe Ortiz of Sustainable Resources Inc. evaluated solar pumping systems to power RO in remote locations.

The new RO system is at work purifying ranch water. Ranchers expect to see results with this year’s calf crop that will produce greater cattle life expectancy and profits.

Since its inception, NMSBA has provided 1,876 small businesses with $29.8 million worth of research hours and materials. The program has helped create and retain nearly 2,317 New Mexico jobs at an average salary of about $38,000, increase small companies’ revenues by $107.6 million and decrease their operating costs by $63.6 million. These companies have invested $34.9 million in other New Mexico goods and services and received $40.9 million in new funding and financing.

Businesses interested in applying for a group project can visit the NMSBA website, www.NMSBAprogram.org, and follow application instructions. For more information contact Jenni DeGreeff at (505) 844-9623, jldegre@sandia.gov, or Becky Coel-Roback at (505) 667-1710, beckycr@lanl.gov.