Cottonwood Technology Group was founded with the mission to contribute to the Paso del Norte region running along the Rio Grande River from Los Alamos, New Mexico to El Paso, Texas, through engagement with the region's entrepreneurial community. This region is host to eight primary research centers - Two federal labs (Los Alamos and Sandia) and the four engineering schools and research universities (UNM, UTEP, NM Tech and NM State) and two medical centers (the University of New Mexico Health Services Center and the Texas Tech University Health Services Center at El Paso). Collectively they represent more than $4.0 billion in annual research across important fields such as Bio-Sciences, New Energy, Nanotechnology, Information Technologies, CleanTech and Aerospace. The focus will be on providing venture services and capital to tech transfer opportunities having strong commercial potential.
The $4.0 billion is significant when compared to approximately $200 million in federal research going to Stanford (net of what goes to the medical center), and approximately $400 million going to MIT - two of the country's best known sources of venture opportunities. What's different? In California there resides over $10 of venture capital for every $1 of research. In Massachusetts the number exceeds $7 to $1. In New Mexico the number is less than $0.10 for every dollar. Additionally, a majority of start-up activities are led by first time entrepreneurs.
This disparity in capital can not be explained away by risk and focus areas. Also first time entrepreneurs place a premium on professionally managed money and sufficient start-up capital to successfully recruit experienced management to partner with the founder(s). Proximity is the single most important factor in where money is invested. This is especially true at the early stages of development where being close to the companies as they grow and evolve is critical. In other words, if money is close to ideas they will be found and invested in. Success breeds more success and more money is available to find and fund more ideas.
The ideas in the region are in abundant. Cottonwood's focus will be to be close to these ideas with money. By identifying the most promising of these ideas for investment, attracting experienced management and more capital to join Cottonwood and by supporting the successful launch of the company, Series A investors can be attracted. This will create the initial success stories needed to catch the attention of more money to enter the region seeking opportunity for returns.
Cottonwood will not be able to make a significant impact all by itself, but by leveraging its expertise and assets with others inside and outside the state, the spark can be fanned into a fire. Like the Cottonwood, "given sufficient moisture (capital and assistance), the seedling can put down roots three- to five-feet deep in the course of a summer. If it survives trampling, fire, flood and animal feeding (start-up challenges), it becomes one of the fastest growing trees in the country". Cottonwood will seed the best ideas, provide needed support and put the companies on the path to succeed.