Innovation Celebration Recognizes 10 New Mexico Small Businesses

Molly Cernicek of SportXast. Courtesy/LANL
LANL News:

Ten New Mexico small businesses participating in projects using the technical expertise and assistance of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) will be recognized at the 13th annual Innovation Celebration April 3 at Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque.

Duncan McBranch, Chief Technology Officer at LANL, is keynote speaker at the Innovation Celebration, which is part of Technology Venture Corporation’s Innovation Summit.

“The technical expertise Los Alamos and Sandia principal investigators provide to small business owners is another example of the vital importance of the national laboratories to the state of New Mexico and small business owners,” said David Pesiri of the Richard P. Feynman Center for Innovation in Los Alamos.

The businesses and individuals to be recognized are:

McFarland Instrumentation Services

McFarland Instrumentation services designs and fabricates electronic instrumentation for analytical procedures and data analysis. Owner Malcolm Fowler said he wanted to validate the precision of his equipment; the New Mexico Small Business Association (NMSBA) contacted Deb Summa at LANAL, who in turn assembled a team that conducted tests of various materials using a high-resolution mass spectrometer, then monitored and evaluated measurements. As a result, McFarland Instrumentation was able to certify their methods and subsequently secured $40,000 in contracts with a Chicago company.

Data Center Transitions

Bill Watts of Data Center Transitions designed MASS Lift, a lifting device that moves large computer server cabinets. However, he said the lift’s motor threatened to interfere with the sensitive electronics stored in the cabinet. With NMSBA assistance, Watts worked with Jeff Dabling and colleagues at SNL to redesign the lift’s power system, which allowed Watts to reduce costs by 20 percent, keep production in Albuquerque and sell additional units to Microsoft.

Real Green Building Systems Leveraged Project

Doug Lenberg of Real Green Building Systems, along with other construction and real estate companies offering environmentally-friendly home designs, sought third-party analysis of their designs relative to industry baseline data. Through the NMBSA, LANL’s Steve Booth and Andy McCown demonstrated that their green technology systems offer a payback in less than 10 years and provide economic benefits to homeowners and municipalities. Their study has attracted investors and increased business among participating companies.

Retriever Technology

Andy Bartlett of Retriever Technology, which provides imaging software and hardware for scientific and industrial companies, received assistance from Bill O’Rourke of SNL to convert data from old seismograms into usable digitized formats. Consequently, Retriever Technology secured a $1 million Small Business Innovative Research Phase II award.

Skyndex Leveraged Project

Welltec, owned by Jeff Collins, manufactures the Skyndex skin fold caliper, which measures body fat percentage. Collins and four other companies received assistance from SNL’s robotics experts for analysis, modeling and mechanical testing. Due to Sandia’s product redesign, the projected benefit to the companies are an estimated $3 million in increased revenues as well as new markets for the Skyndex skin fold caliper.


Molly Cernicek used NMSBA assistance to identify computer vision algorithms that can be integrated with the SportsXast smartphone application for automatic player tagging and highlighting of sporting events. LANL’s Steven Brumby worked with SportsXast to find and use affordable, accessible emerging computer vision tools. SportsXast has since hired a computer vision developer to integrate computer vision tools into its Smartphone app.

Four other companies that received assistance from other New Mexico research partners on contract with the NMSBA also will be recognized. They are Customizabooks, Enchanted Woodworks, Sigma Labs Inc., and Solaro Energy.

The New Mexico Small Business Assistance program was created by the New Mexico Legislature in 2000. Los Alamos National Laboratory joined the program in 2007. Last year, 354 small businesses in 29 counties received assistance through the NMSBA program.

Since its inception, the NMSBA has provided 2,195 New Mexico small businesses with more than $39 million in technical assistance. The program helped create and retain nearly 3,510 jobs at a mean salary of $38,735. Through the assistance of the NMSBA, these companies also saw their revenue increase by more than $172.5 million, while their operating costs decreased by $79 million. These companies in turn invested $56.3 million in other New Mexico goods and services and received $59.6 million in new funding and financing.

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