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Turning Ideas Into Products

By Kevin Robinson-Avila Albuquerque Journal, N.M.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) "Team accelerator", created by the Albuquerque engineering firm Team Technologies Inc. is helping startups turn new hardware ideas into minimally viable products. It recently received a $275,000 grant from the city to work with local startups.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.

A novel skullcap to monitor sports-related head injuries may soon be ready for mass manufacturing with help from Albuquerque's newest business accelerator.

Team Accelerator, which launched in February to help local startups design and build new hardware, is now working with its first six companies to turn ideas or initial prototypes into marketable products.

Pressure Analysis Co., which is developing University of New Mexico technology for real-time monitoring of sports-related blows to the head, already has a hand-built prototype of its new "SmackCAP." As a graduate of the ABQid business accelerator, the company has also done extensive market research to demonstrate customer demand.

Now, Team Accelerator will help turn the company's initial device into one ready for mass production, said company co-founder Lori Upham.

"They're helping us go from something built by hand to something that's manufacturable on a large scale," Upham said. "That's a huge step that's very hard to do without assistance. Team Accelerator has the engineering capability and facilities to help us take this next step."

The accelerator, created by the Albuquerque engineering firm Team Technologies Inc., received a $275,000 grant from the city to work with local startups. Unlike the city's other accelerators, which generally impart skills to accelerate a company's path to market, Team Accelerator is helping startups turn new hardware ideas into minimally viable products.

The Albuquerque engineering firm has amassed extensive infrastructure over 30 years of contract work with government and commercial entities. That includes a 36,000-square-foot engineering facility at the Sandia Science and Technology Park for precision machining, 3-D printing, metrology, and electronics development and manufacturing.

The company has used its facilities as a commercial incubator space for years. But the new accelerator program will allow it to work with more startup entrepreneurs, said President and CEO Bob Sachs.

"We believe there's a big need for a hardware accelerator in Albuquerque, and we're a natural fit," Sachs said.

Apart from Pressure Analysis, Team is now helping five other startups:

-- OptiPulse, which created new optics technology for low-cost construction of wireless broadband networks.

-- MicroPhonon, which built technology to detect water leaks in homes and buildings.

-- New Sports Technology, which has an all-weather laser system to measure first downs in football games.

-- BiGen, which wants to adapt magnet power systems used in laboratory research for medical imaging and treatments.

-- MicroSauna, which is building a portable infrared sauna for alternative health and wellness programs.

Depending on what they need, startups may contribute from about $1,000 to $5,000 for accelerator services, while receiving from $10,000 to $30,000 in assistance, said Team Accelerator program manager Patricia Knighten. The accelerator expects to accept four or five more companies this year.

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