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Maryland teams enlist in Innovation-Corps

The region’s latest program aimed at commercializing research and boosting entrepreneurship launched this week at George Washington University, and several of Maryland’s big-name hospitals, universities and business incubators are represented.

Twenty teams, each comprised of inventors and current or aspiring entrepreneurs, will participate in the first cohort of DC Innovation Corps (I-Corps), an intensive, seven-week program that uses an approach called the “Lean Startup Model” to help teams develop prototypes for new products and create scalable business models.

The cohort is made up of a diverse mix of teams from Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland, the Emerging Technology Center, the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute and [email protected] (the incubator at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.) Teams also come from GWU, Virginia Tech, the Children’s National Medical Center and George Mason University.

DC I-Corps is a partnership between UM, GWU and Virginia Tech, and is part of a network of I-Corps that built upon the National Science Foundation I-Corps initiative (to involve participants not already affiliated with NSF). The program focuses on inspiring innovation in the engineering, medical/health/life sciences, physical sciences and computer sciences fields.

During the seven-week program, teams will develop a “minimal viable product” for which they will gather extensive feedback from a minimum of 100 potential customers, as per the guidelines of the Lean Startup Model. They iterate that process until they have a repeatable, scalable business model that can be turned into a successful new venture.

More than 200 teams have completed one of several I-Corps programs across the country. By spring, 300 teams are expected to have completed a program.

I-Corps participants have higher-than-average success rates when applying for a kind of grant from the National Institutes of Health specifically for small or startup businesses engaged in research, according to I-Corps officials.

“We believe that combining this methodology with the research churning from world-class universities and federal laboratories in this region is the equivalent of releasing lightning from a bottle,” said program director Edmund Pendleton in a statement. “Great companies that bolster the region’s economy and bring important products into our lives are bound to emerge.”

Here’s a quick look at a few participants hailing from Maryland:

From the Emerging Technology Center, a business incubator in Baltimore:

–          Tutela Industries, the parent company of Tutela BedSide Technologies — an “interactive patient engagement platform” that aims to improve outcomes for babies in the neonatal intensive care unit, according to vice president Karen Alder.

From Johns Hopkins University:

–          Read Ahead, a venture to develop a training method for seeing ahead when learning to read music created by Travis Hardaway, an adjunct faculty member at the Peabody Institute

From the University of Maryland, College Park:

–          Diagnostic anSERS Inc., a company that’s developing a molecular fingerprinting technology for forensics and chemical analysis, led by doctoral student Sean Virgile

DC I-Corps partners with a long list of organizations and companies that provide mentoring or other support. That list includes: FounderCorps, UM Ventures, Maryland Technology Development Corp., the Center for Innovative Technology and the Maryland Intellectual Property Legal Resource Center.