VAF Funding Helped to Fuel Vizzia Technology’s “Internet of Things” Laboratory
Tech company’s focus on giving back to the community energizes Northern NM economy and brings internship and job opportunities to STEM students
Vizzia Technologies is a boon to the Northern New Mexico business community. Locally minded, and committed to the people it employs, the company is rooted in Santa Fe but has a global marketplace. Formed in 2005, Vizzia Technologies is a leading provider of RTLS (real-time location systems) and RFID (radio frequency identification) equipment tracking mechanisms for the healthcare field
“At the time, these technologies weren’t present in healthcare, although they were prevalent in other industries,” said CEO and co-founder Andrew Halasz.
The company’s approach is wraparound; in addition to creating the technologies, they help their clients implement them and serve as a point of contact once the technology is installed. This technology helps hospitals cut costs as well as streamline processes like equipment distribution and patient throughput, which can be complicated and time-consuming.
Breaking New Ground
When the opportunity to apply for a Venture Acceleration Fund (VAF) zero-interest loan presented itself, Vizzia Technologies saw the potential to incubate their “Internet of Things” laboratory. Halasz had dreamt of building smart devices, or sensors, that track and monitor objects with real-time data transfer through the internet for storage and analysis on cloud-based systems.
This is the “Internet of Things” as Vizzia Technologies sees it. Instantaneous, automated actions and responses—powering devices on or off, alerting people or other machines with real-time data—would allow the company to forge ahead with competitive technology in a quickly developing field.
Systems like this are rapidly being deployed in everything from cars, planes and factories to healthcare and consumer devices. It’s the basis for emerging smart homes that automatically control temperature or appliances, smart grids that instantly manage shifts in electric generation and distribution, and self-driving cars.
“By 2020, there are expected to be 20 billion sensors submitting data,” said Halasz.
Awarded VAF funding in 2015, Vizzia Technologies moved swiftly to establish the laboratory, and the effects of the investment are already being multiplied. Partnering with the University of New Mexico’s (UNM) School of Engineering, the company co-created a brand-new master’s-level specialization, plus a research and development laboratory in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
The VAF funding also led to the hiring of a project manager to oversee the company’s initiatives, such as coordinating with the University’s computer engineering school and with the acting president of the University. The funding will continue to aid Vizzia as they build the specialized curriculum and certificate program.
Vizzia Technologies has met two other key milestones since receiving the funding in 2014: they’ve brought in the first series of equipment to test, and they’ve brought in students from UNM to evaluate the first wave of technologies that were brought into the lab. The student intern program, which typically involves 2-3 students and a UNM-based mentor, is key to the company’s focus on giving back to New Mexico and keeping valuable tech dollars in the state.
The Regional Development Corporation (RDC) is the administrator of the VAF program. With a mission to create and retain high-paying jobs and attract revenue to the Northern New Mexico region, the RDC recognized the company’s potential to accomplish both these goals.
The VAF is the only program in Northern New Mexico that provides seed money for early-stage technology startups and growth-oriented business who lack the collateral for debt financing. Funded primarily by Los Alamos National Security (LANS), the VAF has assisted Northern New Mexico businesses at critical junctures since its inception in 2006. The VAF receives additional support from Los Alamos County, Santa Fe County, City of Santa Fe Economic Development and New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).
With a laudable commitment to growing sustainable jobs in Santa Fe, Vizzia Technologies carries out a similar pledge when it comes to their client base. The company is passionate about putting the newest and best technologies in front of clients.
“In order for us to make the best recommendations for the tracking technologies, and because they’re changing so frequently and there are new and better ones being developed all over the world, we want to bring them into the laboratory so we can know their strengths and weaknesses,” said Halasz.
The Road Ahead
In the next year, Halasz said that Vizzia expects to add even more jobs, including prior and current student interns through high-skilled technical and professional jobs are the focus. “We will need software engineers, project managers, and (people who can do) sensor testing and development,” he said.
The funding from the VAF “was really a springboard for us,” said Halasz. “We’ve grown our business by 34 percent since receiving VAF funding, and we are in a better position to continue our growth trajectory due to the new systems we have developed which were made possible by the funding.”