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‘We need to create jobs’: UMB official explains $4M venture plan

‘We need to create jobs’: UMB official explains $4M venture plan

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The UMB Dental School building. (The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz)
The UMB Dental School building. (The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz)

Last year, the state legislature passed legislation to form a partnership between the University of Maryland’s Baltimore and College Park campuses.

One aspect of the partnership will be an attempt to increase entrepreneurship developing out of the campuses and the resources they’ll each bring to the table.

Thursday night, James Hughes gave some insights into how that will work at the Baltimore campus.

Hughes, the school’s chief enterprise and economic development officer, focused on the Center for Maryland Advanced Ventures, which will receive initial funding of $4 million in the fiscal year that starts this July.

“Four million is a good amount of money. We want to have high impact with that. It can be, it will be, it needs to be transformational,” Hughes said.

The center could be an economic driver for the city of Baltimore. The legislation encourages the development and location of university-created or sponsored technology companies in the city.

“We need to create jobs,’ he said. “We need to accelerate the creation of entrepreneurial culture here.”

Hughes said that could be systemwide, including technologies developed at places like Frostburg University or even outside the system at Johns Hopkins University.

“We specifically also want to increase the collaborations with the other universities here,” he said. “I would emphasize, not collaboration for collaboration sake, but so that they maximize this creation of jobs and lifting up the economy.”

Hughes envisioned components of the schools working across disciplines to help bring products created through the development process.

This tech-transfer system has already been implemented at the University of Maryland, Baltimore and could be a big part of the partnership between campuses.

“You’ve got to sell this as worth investing in, this is worth buying or this is worth partnering,” Hughes said. “A brilliant scientist is very unlikely to do it on their own. They’re going to need legal assistance, regulatory assistance, business assistance.”

Many of those assets can be found on the Baltimore campus, including the law school. The business school has an outpost in the BioPark.

“We’d like this to be a nexus where we could have students, staff, faculty from all the UMB schools, but also USM schools to be interacting with one another,” he said.

As an example, he highlighted the College Park campus’ engineering school forming an Institute for Medical Devices, something he thought would work well with the medicine school in Baltimore.

However, there could be some redundancies as the schools begin to work together, Hughes warned.

“There is some market confusion at College Park,” he said. “Once something gets established separately, it’s tough to bring it together.”

The other aspect of the partnership could come from social entrepreneurship, looking for ways to impact the surrounding community.

“It’s not just about creating a company that’s going to bring a new drug to market,” he said. “You think of the serious social, economic problems in Baltimore City or cities around the country and around the world. We need to be entrepreneurial to solve those, to address those.”

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