Tech Transfer: Closing the Gap Between Innovation and Commercialization in Maryland

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Tech transfer has always been one of those holy grails: you hear of success stories from academic institutions in Boston, Texas, Silicon Valley, but rarely hear the names of universities closer to home. With predictable frequency, some study or another reminds us of the drop off in Maryland between university innovation (where we score off the charts) and commercialization (where we don’t even make the playoffs). The reflexive solution is to fix the challenge from within the university, which, while occasionally showing promise, hasn’t meaningfully moved the dial. So the governor and legislature came up with an “outside/in” solution – to have TEDCO manage a well capitalized program to help in the effort to drive promising research to market. I had a chance to sit down with Jennifer Hammaker, who heads this program for TEDCO, known as the Maryland Innovation Initiative (MII) to find out whether the tech transfer dial is finally moving…

Getting Tech Transferred. Some background first. MII was created as a partnership between Maryland and five Maryland academic research institutions, to be run by TEDCO to facilitate the commercialization of promising technologies. MII has been designed to focus on the predictable barriers to commercialization of university driven research, so there’s funding and support for each stage of the process, from technology validation, to market assessment, and from company formation to continued research support from the collaborating institution.

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