Budding entrepreneurs vie for support at Discovery Day

Event was held at San Juan College on Thursday

Megan Petersen
Farmington Daily Times
Albuquerque's Steven Alderete presents a business idea to panelists during Discovery Day at the Zia Conference Center on Thursday.
  • Discovery Day was co-hosted by Four Corners Innovations and the High Desert Discovery District.
  • An Albuquerque business owner said it was validating to participate in Discovery Day.
  • The results of the competition will be announced in a matter of weeks.

FARMINGTON — Representatives of start-up businesses and budding companies seeking connections, feedback and resources gathered for Discovery Day at the Zia Conference Center at San Juan College on Thursday.

The event, presented by the High Desert Discovery District and Four Corners Innovations, featured officials from 10 businesses from four states presenting their ideas and products to a panel of more than a dozen local and state entrepreneurs, according to Four Corners Innovation CEO Alicia Corbell.

Products and ideas pitched on Thursday included a dryer system for military and recreational water bladders, mobile laboratory equipment, and innovations to boost human and plant immunity to pathogens and to better detect lung infections, Corbell said.

Panelists will review the presentations and will decide as a group whether to give recommendations, set up mentorships, help facilitate business connections and give financial support to the participants. Corbell said the results of the competition will be announced in a matter of weeks.

Corbell said Discovery Day helps Four Corners Innovations fulfill its commitment to the local economy, and Mike Langone, president of a consulting firm called Abvante and a Discovery Day panelist, said the event presents an opportunity to help businesses break out of the conceptual realm and into the commercial world.

“Having some support for commercial business — you know, we’re heavy on government and stuff like that, but this (last presenter) was a lab guy who worked at Los Alamos who has a great thing, but how do you bring it out into the business world?” Langone said. "I’m a business guy, and as a business guy, you come and you help them figure what choices you make and how to get into a successful business."

Panel members listen to a presentation during Discovery Day at the Zia Conference Center on Thursday.

Steven Alderete of TRL-9, an Albuquerque start-up business that is developing the water bladder drying system, said participating in Discovery Day was a validating experience.

“It means that somebody believes in me; somebody believes in my idea; somebody believes in my product enough to invite me to this thing,” Alderete said after his presentation on Thursday, adding, “I’m going to push forward on this whether somebody helps me out or not, but to be able to present here means a lot to me.”

Goutam Gupta of Innate Immunity presented a business concept to the panel and sat on the panel during Discovery Day. He said the event was a good opportunity to connect with statewide opportunities, share growth and development within a company, and learn from other business efforts.

“I’m learning a lot from this,” Gupta said after his presentation on Thursday. “It’s a very diverse group of efforts (from) people with diverse backgrounds, so it’s a learning process. It’s gratifying to see new businesses in New Mexico. We can always use a few more. … We love innovation, and we want to do it and see others do it, too.”

Megan Petersen covers business and education for The Daily Times. Reach her at 505-564-4621 or