SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The city of Santa Fe is posing a challenge to local academics to help them engage young technology experts and executives to start companies and lead social innovation in the state.

Liz Camacho, the city of Santa Fe’s economic development administrator, says the project is part of a larger initiative called STIR Labs, which connects government and academic teams to find a solution that faces their local area.

“When we spoke with (STIR Labs), something they mentioned was that sometimes it feels as if the most innovative research teams are accessible to the private world but not necessarily to the public sector,” Camacho said. “With this project, they can almost democratize the accessibility of academic research.”

The academic research teams will be able to work with Comacho and the Santa Fe Innovates Founder Jon Mertz and have access to their resources in order to work towards a solution.

“There’s really an untapped potential between academia and cities partnering together on this. They both have brainpower obviously but academia is focused on research and taking research and applying it to how you can solve certain problems,” Mertz said. “There’s definitely interest in it from the university perspective.”

New Mexico is one of eight states participating in this program. Currently, the team is waiting to see who applies to become part of the project, applications close Nov. 6. Those who are interested in applying can submit a short proposal to the challenge posed. The chosen applicants will then spend 16 weeks researching with their government partners.

“In Santa Fe, we feel the challenge we articulated was very much about how we have so many resources, now how is it we can create a common thread so that we can all move forward,” Camacho said. “I think many times perhaps we have isolated efforts, so we will facilitate and give as many resources as we can to work towards a solution.”

They hope to get started on the project by the beginning of next year. Camacho said that while they don’t know what the solution will be, they’re looking forward to working with academics and perhaps view the challenges they posed from a different perspective.

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