SENATE BILL 250
56th legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - second session, 2024
George K. Muñoz and William P. Soules
RELATING TO HIGHER EDUCATION; ENACTING THE INNOVATION FELLOWSHIP ACT; MAKING AN APPROPRIATION.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO:
SECTION 1. [NEW MATERIAL] SHORT TITLE.--This act may be cited as the "Innovation Fellowship Act".
SECTION 2. [NEW MATERIAL] DEFINITION.--As used in the Innovation Fellowship Act, "fellow" means an individual selected to receive a fellowship pursuant to the Innovation Fellowship Act.
SECTION 3. [NEW MATERIAL] INNOVATION FELLOWSHIPS--SELECTION--AMOUNTS--DURATION.--
A. Innovation fellowships may be awarded to an individual who:
(1) is enrolled as a graduate student or employed as a post-doctoral student at the university of New Mexico, the university of New Mexico health sciences center, New Mexico state university, the New Mexico institute of mining and technology or Navajo technical university;
(2) has filed an application for a patent with the United States patent and trademark office for an invention that has the potential to result in new commercial enterprises; and
(3) has signed a binding commitment that the fellowship applicant, if awarded a fellowship, will upon the successful commercialization of the fellow's patent either establish a commercial enterprise in New Mexico or, if the patent is sold, repay the amounts awarded to the fellow pursuant to the Innovation Fellowship Act.
B. No more than ten fellowships shall be awarded in any fiscal year, and no more than three fellowships shall be awarded to graduate students or post-doctoral students at any one educational institution.
C. Fellowships shall be awarded in an amount to include:
(1) all tuition and fees at the educational institution at which the fellow is enrolled;
(2) a living stipend in the amount of twenty thousand dollars ($20,000) per academic year; and
(3) reimbursement in an amount not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000) per academic year for expenses incurred by the fellow for travel to promote the commercialization of the fellow's patent.
D. If a fellow is a post-doctoral employee, the educational institution employing the recipient shall be reimbursed for one-half of the fellow's annual salary to ensure that at least one-half of the fellow's time at work is dedicated to the commercialization of the fellow's patent.
E. In addition to an award pursuant to Subsection C of this section, a fellow may be awarded not more than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) to further develop the fellow's patent and initiate a commercial enterprise based on that patent.
SECTION 4. [NEW MATERIAL] FELLOWSHIP SELECTION
A. The "fellowship selection committee" is established within the higher education department to implement the provisions of the Innovation Fellowship Act. The higher education department shall provide administrative support to the fellowship selection committee.
B. The fellowship selection committee consists of seven members as follows:
(1) the secretary of higher education or the secretary's designee, who shall serve as chair of the committee;
(2) the secretary of economic development or the secretary's designee; and
(3) the vice president of research, or the vice president's designee, at:
(a) the university of New Mexico;
(b) the university of New Mexico health sciences center;
(c) New Mexico state university;
(d) the New Mexico institute of mining and technology; and
(e) Navajo technical university.
C. The fellowship selection committee shall:
(1) identify individuals to receive innovation fellowships pursuant to Section 3 of the Innovation Fellowship Act; and
(2) award supplemental funding pursuant to Subsection E of Section 3 of the Innovation Fellowship Act upon receiving acceptable evidence of the commercialization potential of a fellow's patent.
D. No later than October 1, 2025 and October 1 of each year thereafter, the fellowship selection committee shall submit a report to the legislative finance committee and appropriate interim legislative committees on the funding awarded pursuant to the Innovation Fellowship Act during the prior fiscal year and the extent to which fellows' patents have been successfully commercialized.
SECTION 5. [NEW MATERIAL] INNOVATION FELLOWSHIP FUND.--The "innovation fellowship fund" is created in the state treasury. The fund consists of appropriations, gifts, grants, donations and investment income from the fund. Money in the fund at the end of a fiscal year shall not revert to any other fund. The higher education department shall administer the fund, and money in the fund is appropriated to the higher education department to implement the Innovation Fellowship Act. Disbursements from the fund shall be made by warrant of the secretary of finance and administration pursuant to vouchers signed by the secretary of higher education or the secretary's designee.
SECTION 6. [NEW MATERIAL] ENTREPRENEURSHIP PROGRAMS.--The fellowship selection committee shall award the university of New Mexico, the university of New Mexico health sciences center, New Mexico state university, the New Mexico institute of mining and technology and Navajo technical university fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) per fiscal year to offer entrepreneurship education programs to students.
SECTION 7. [NEW MATERIAL] HIGHER EDUCATION DEPARTMENT--RULES.--The higher education department shall, in consultation with the fellowship selection committee, promulgate rules to implement the Innovation Fellowship Act.
SECTION 8. APPROPRIATION.--Five million dollars ($5,000,000) is appropriated from the general fund to the innovation fellowship fund for expenditure in fiscal year 2025 and subsequent fiscal years to fund fellowships and supplemental funding awarded pursuant to the Innovation Fellowship Act and to support entrepreneurship education. Any unexpended or unencumbered balance remaining at the end of a fiscal year shall not revert to the general fund.
SECTION 9. EFFECTIVE DATE.--The effective date of the provisions of this act is July 1, 2024.
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