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Maryland Innovation Initiative Announces Initial Slate of Programs

October 24, 2012

Maryland's Innovation Initiative (MII), launched earlier this year, unveiled two inaugural programs on Monday aimed at commercializing technologies at the state's universities. The new Innovation Discovery Program will help universities identify promising technologies and potential collaborations by reimbursing them for the costs of employing on-site, part-time "site miners." The Innovation Commercialization Program will provide cash awards to support research, commercialization planning and product development. The programs are part of an ongoing effort in the state to coordinate commercialization activities at the five qualifying universities.

Governor Martin O'Malley championed the initiative as part of his legislative agenda, along with the InvestMaryland venture capital effort (see the January 25 and April 18 issues of the Digest). MII has been structured as a partnership between the state and five of its academic institutions, including the University of Maryland, College Park, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University and Morgan State University. Each of the institutions contributes to a fund, which is then augmented by state funds and private donations, to support commercialization programs. The state aims to use the fund to help commercialize 40 new technologies each year. The initiative has a $5.8 million budget for FY13.

As part of the Innovation Discovery Program, each institution will be able to retain a part-time professional, focused on identifying opportunities for commercialization, complementary technologies at different institutions and potential collaborations across departments, schools and institutions. These "site miners" will be tech commercialization experts with backgrounds in tech transfer, entrepreneurship and private industry. The miners also will serve as guides for faculty entrepreneurs through the commercialization process. Universities will host a set number of site miner meetings each year to bring together faculty, students, entrepreneurs and tech transfer offices in the region.

The Innovation Commercialization Program will provide awards of up to $215,000 for commercialization projects at a single university and up to $270,000 for collaborations between multiple institutions. Applicants will be accepted in three discrete categories: pre-commercial translational research, commercialization planning and early stage product development.

Along with the unveiling of the two new programs, MII's board named Robert Hallenbeck of BD Sciences to serve as board chair, while Patrick O'Shea of the University of Maryland, College Park, will serve as vice chair. Jennifer Hammaker, formerly of Penn State College of Medicine's Office of Technology Development has been hired by TEDCO to manage the initiative's operations.

Learn more about the Maryland Innovation Initiative...

Marylandhigher ed, commercialization, capital