BBJ: Why UMB and Hopkins Came Together to Grow Entrepreneurship in Maryland
Monday, November 6, 2017
University of Maryland, Baltimore and Johns Hopkins University could safely be classified as "friendly competitors." Operating in the same city, the two institutions "compete" for the funding and recognition as major research forces in the state. Both are affiliated with large medical systems, anchored by two of the highest-earning hospitals in the state.
But it seems they have found common ground in at least one mission: trying to grow state's tech ecosystem and better support the startup community.
UMB and Hopkins recently collaborated on two different incubator projects as part of a funding competition presented by the Maryland Technology Development Corp. Both projects will now be brought to life, using the $125,000 they each won in the challenge.
Linda Cassard, assistant vice president in UMB's office of research and development, said it all began when the TEDCO incubation challenge came up and called for collaborative tech projects across the state. The tech-minded folks at UMB and Hopkins saw an opportunity to step beyond their own walls and create something bigger in Baltimore.
"We started thinking about what we could do together, what we could do for Baltimore, instead of going at the same game with different bats," Cassard said. "We're bringing the force and power of our anchor institutions together to create a bigger impact."
Megan Wahler, program manager for Hopkins's FastForward incubators, said the concept for both projects started by looking at where the holes are in Maryland's entrepreneurial ecosystem and talking to startups about what they needed.
Here are the two projects they came up with:
- Anchor Ventures, a project that builds on a "venture cafe" model that has worked in other states. It will include meetings on the third Thursday of every month where startups and entrepreneurs can network, collaborate, engage with guest speakers and mentors and mingle with venture capitalists in a relaxed environment. The program will be piloted in Baltimore, with hopes to expand it to other parts of the state as well.
- TrajectoryNext, a new post-accelerator program that will offer startups support and assistance as they work to build up their teams and acquire new customers. It is designed to serve startups that are navigating the tricky period after graduating from an accelerator or incubator and losing that outside support system. The collaborative team included local incubator Betamore as well as representatives from Hopkins and UMB.
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