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MIPS awards favor chicken poop

Chicken poop is, apparently, big business.

Of the 18 projects receiving money in the latest funding round of the Maryland Industrial Partnerships program, five of them involve poultry manure.

Specifically, the projects — collectively worth $1.9 million — are investigating different ways of converting the manure into energy, including anaerobic digestion, gasification and combustion.

Each technology would potentially produce electricity and heat while keeping nitrogen and phosphorus in the manure from polluting the Chesapeake Bay. They would also potentially create marketable byproducts like fertilizer, soil amendments or algae feedstock.

But the Maryland Industrial Partnerships program isn’t going to the birds (sorry, had to).

MIPS also funded 13 other projects this round, ranging from medical devices to cancer therapies to health care management software and other technologies.

MIPS is an initiative of the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech), which is within the University of Maryland A. James Clark School of Engineering.

The MIPS program supports university-based research projects by pairing faculty with Maryland companies to develop technologies that have market potential. MIPS awards grants that are matched with funds from the company working on each project.

This round, MIPS contributed a total of $2.3 million, while the companies contributed $2.4 million, to the 18 projects. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provided additional funding.

This round of awards, which was announced Tuesday, is the 54th round since the program was launched in 1987. The program has so far supported projects involving more than 500 Maryland-based firms.