New Mexico Investment Council Commits Record $100M In Fund

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's State Investment Council is pledging $100 million to a tech-focused nonprofit, the council's biggest commitment on record to a single venture fund.

The council gave unanimous approval of the investment Tuesday into America's Frontier Fund, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

America's Frontier Fund, or AFF, is the “first investment platform committed to reinvigorating our nation’s innovation and manufacturing prowess in critical frontier technology sectors,” according to its website. It combines private and public resources. The technology sectors 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 channels funds from New Mexico's Severance Tax Permanent Fund toward venture firms that support local startups.

In a presentation to the council, Gilman Louie, AFF's CEO, said the firm plans to construct a “venture studio” in Albuquerque that could be a national headquarters for satellite studios in and outside of New Mexico. The studio would offer support to major research institutions focused on technology as well as fuel new startups.

AFF’s investors, scientists, technologists and policy leaders will scout research into technology that can be brought to consumers through new companies, AFF CEO Gilman Louie told the SIC on Tuesday morning. The Land of Enchantment could be an alternate Silicon Valley, Louie said.

“(Our vision) is to transform New Mexico into a global leader for frontier technology innovation, making New Mexico the center of a vibrant network of venture studios across the U.S.,” Louie told the council. “ … We believe New Mexico should be a global leader in frontier tech because New Mexico is at the center of many of America’s new scientific research discoveries.”

Harold Lavender, a council member who leads its investment committee, said AFF and its hands-on leaders stood out.

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

Some of the high-profile backers of AFF include ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt, PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, former U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and other executives from federal agencies.