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UMD Spinoffs Star on State’s New List of Hottest Innovative Companies

‘Maryland’s Future 20’ Also Includes Startups That Turned to University for Expertise

By Lauren Brown

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Illustration by iStock

The new Maryland Future 20 list announced this week highlights up-and-coming innovative companies in the state, including seven that started at UMD.

Spanning quantum computers, unmanned aerial systems and medicine, seven of the 20 companies that Gov. Larry Hogan named to a new list of innovative startups with the potential to be major successes in the state were born at the University of Maryland. 

The university also had a role in developing six other startups on Maryland’s Future 20 through its more than 50 entrepreneurial programs, competitions and other resources. Its prominence on the list is proof that UMD’s innovation ecosystem is producing results, said Julie Lenzer, chief innovation officer.

“This is what we’re supposed to be doing,” she said. “We have incredible faculty, students and alumni here at UMD yielding a multitude of fearless ideas. Our goal is to activate those ideas toward creating transformational impact across the community, the state and the world."

For the past four years, the university has made a concerted effort to amp up the support it provides to students and faculty while growing and connecting its programs. For example, UM Ventures created the Business Fundamentals for Scientists workshop series, which has gone virtual during the pandemic, allowing it to expand to institutions across the state. It launched the Terrapin Entrepreneur Network (TEN) to connect with entrepreneurial alumni, and it hired former venture capitalist Stan Smith as the venture investment manager and director of the Dingman Center Angels, where he prepares startups for investment.

The Maryland Future 20 that licensed UMD intellectual property are: 

  • Airgility: unmanned aerial systems to help support defense missions, public safety and commercial sectors.
  • InventWood: environmentally sustainable cellulose products. 
  • IonQ: quantum computing hardware and software company taking ion quantum computing from the lab to the marketplace.
  • Ion Storage Systems: batteries that are safer and enhance system performance.
  • Medcura: a wound care platform for surgical, medical and consumer applications.
  • N5 Sensors: high-performance sensors and detectors.
  • pathOtrak: rapid detection test for foodborne pathogens, including E.coli and salmonella.

Six of those are based in Prince George’s County, including four located in the university’s Discovery District (which also houses Terp alum-owned companies Inky and Cybrary). N5 Sensors is headquartered in Montgomery County.

Other Maryland Future 20 companies that connected with UMD innovation resources are ACTIVEcharge, Aidar Health, HopFlytRelavo, Resesnys, Silfra Biosystems and Sisu Global Health.

Lenzer said that as Maryland’s flagship institution and a land-grant university, UMD has a mission not to just educate students and conduct research, but also to benefit the state. 

“We do that through programs such as MIPS (Maryland Industrial Partnerships) and I-Corps, and we house the Maryland Small Business Development Center,” she said. “We want to help our own students, faculty and alumni, and we're extending that support to the community.” 

The Maryland Future 20 list announced on Tuesday—National Entrepreneurs Day—is part of Innovation Uncovered, a Maryland Department of Commerce initiative to highlight innovators, entrepreneurs and growing small businesses. More than 125 nominations were received from the business community and general public, and the final list was selected based on factors including innovation, growth potential, the company’s Maryland story and “wow” factor.

“I want to congratulate the Maryland Future 20 and thank all of the companies that were nominated for what they are doing to advance technology, address health crises and continue to make Maryland a great place to start and grow a company,” Hoan said in a statement. 

Schools & Departments:

Division of Research

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