Mtech, Alumna-Run Companies Vie for State Awards

Four companies in the Clark School's Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech) venture acceleration and incubation programs were selected as finalists for the 2010 Maryland Incubator Company of the Year awards. A fifth company run by a Clark School chemical engineering alumna also has been named a finalist.

Winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Center Club in Baltimore, Md., on June 15, 2010.

"The selection of four finalist companies out of the University of Maryland is validation of the innovation ecosystem model Mtech has created to spur commercialization of the most promising research at UM," says Dean Chang, director of Mtech’s venture programs and director of the Technology Advancement Program (TAP) incubator. "All four companies have flourished by following similar paths from initial discovery at Mtech's Entrepreneur Office Hours and Faculty Venture Fairs, to preliminary business validation as winners of Mtech's UM $75K Business Plan Competition, and now to company acceleration and incubation through Mtech's VentureAccelerator and TAP incubator programs."

The four finalist companies include two companies currently in the TAP incubator and two companies currently in TAP's fast-track, early admission program called VentureAccelerator:

  • FlexEl LLC is developing thin-film battery technology that is higher in charge storage capacity than market-leading alternatives; completely flexible in form factor, enabling "battery cloth," inexpensively manufactured via low-cost printing technologies, rechargeable at low voltages, and environmentally friendly. FlexEl won the high tech category in the 2009 UM $75K Business Plan Competition and graduated from VentureAccelerator to TAP in October 2009. FlexEl’s patent-pending technologies were developed by electrical and computer engineering professors Martin Peckerar and Neil Goldsman, as well as research associate and alumnus Zeynep Dilli.
  • Omnispeech LLC is developing speech extraction technology for cellular and other communications. Omnispeech’s technology solves a major problem—background noise in cell phone conversations—with cost-effective software, while current solutions require bulky, cost-intensive hardware. The company won the high tech category in the 2010 UM $75K Business Plan Competition and is currently in the VentureAccelerator program. The company was founded by Carol Espy-Wilson, a professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering and the Institute for Systems Research.
  • Remedium Technologies Inc. develops hemostatic (blood-clotting) technologies that use patent-pending nano-hooks to stop severe bleeding much more effectively and safely than existing products. Remedium won second place in the faculty and graduate student category in the 2007 UM $50K Business Plan Competition and is currently in the VentureAccelerator program. The company's technology was invented by Fischell Department of Bioengineeringdoctoral candidates Matthew Dowling and Peter Thomas, as well as associate professor Srinivasa Raghavan (chemical and biomolecular engineering).
  • Resensys LLC develops self-powered, energy-harvesting, wireless, distributed sensors for monitoring structures such as bridges, buildings, and pipelines. The company's patent-pending technology, invented by electrical and computer engineering assistant research scientist and alumnus Mehdi Kalantari, will detect strain, deformation, and cracks forming in structures, and provide early warnings when problems arise. Resensys' sensors attach to existing structures. Resensys won the high tech category in the 2008 UM $50K Business Plan Competition and graduated from VentureAccelerator to TAP in March 2010.

Since 2008, TAP has had 10 finalists and four winners of the prestigious Maryland Incubator Company of the Year awards. Historically, previous TAP winners include: Martek Biosciences, Digene Corporation, DataStream Content Solutions, Lurn, TRX Systems, Zymetis, and AccuStrata.

In addition to the four Mtech companies named as finalists, a fifth alumna-run company also is a finalist. Amethyst Technologies, run by Kimberly Brown (M.S. '98 and Ph.D. '05, chemical engineering), offers a variety of services to the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, hospital, blood bank, and veterinarian medicine sectors.

Sponsored by The Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO), RSM McGladrey, Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development (Maryland DBED), and Saul Ewing LLP, the Maryland Incubator Company of the Year awards are chosen in several categories by a selection committee of regional industry leaders and early-stage investors. Award recipients benefit from publicity and gain greater credibility in the business, technology, and investment communities.

Selection criteria for a winning company includes: success in achieving its objectives, its technology or product development; growth in revenue or earnings; number of customers and significant customers; technology transfer; attraction of outside investors; and impact on the region. Award recipients were chosen based on their nomination form, onsite visits, and interviews with references.

Awards will be made in various categories. Previous years' categories included Life Science Company of the Year, Information Technology Company of the Year, Technology Service Company of the Year, Homeland Security Company of the Year, New Incubator Company of the Year, Technology Transfer Company of the Year, and Graduate Company of the Year.

Published June 3, 2010