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USM fund invests $350,000 in BioPark med-tech startup

University of Maryland's Graduate Research Innovation District. (The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz)

University of Maryland’s Graduate Research Innovation District. (The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz)

The University System of Maryland Maryland Momentum Fund and the University of Maryland, Baltimore, have invested $350,000 in a medical technology startup, the 11th investment from the fund.

University of Maryland BioPark startup ARMR Systems Inc. was awarded $350,000, the first time a BioPark resident has received an investment from the fund.

The university investments led ARMR’s $750,000 seed round as the advanced tourniquet maker goes through the regulatory process and begins to build out its team.

ARMR’s tourniquet is a lightweight device that can be worn in combat by the military, as well as other applications. It is designed to allow the tourniquet to be quickly applied to stop bleeding by anyone in the field. Many advanced tourniquets can only be applied by medics.

About 90% of preventable military fatalities are due to hemorrhage, said Chibueze “Chibs” Ihenacho, ARMR’s founder and CEO. Outside of the military, that is true of about 35% of pre-hospital fatalities.

The investments from the Momentum Fund and the University of Maryland, Baltimore, led the $750,000 seed funding round that Ihenacho described as oversubscribed. Tamiami Angel Fund III, LLC, a Florida-based angel fund, also participated. The money raised is  expected to help with finishing the product beta, research and development, hiring and going through the FDA regulatory process.

The firm has also raised nearly $1.5 million through military grants.

Ihenacho described the company as one that makes physical things.

“This is an old-fashioned, make-real-stuff company,” he said. “We are really mission-focused … on getting this out into the field as soon as possible.”

The company is looking to find manufacturing in Maryland. Ihenacho said Maryland’s aerospace firms mean there’s a good base of manufacturing capability in the state.

The company’s initial market is military special operations, along with some smaller police units, like SWAT teams. A wider market could include larger military forces and first responders.

ARMR was the 11th Momentum Fund investment. The $10 million fund provides late seed investment money for technology startups that come out of University System of Maryland institutions, including firms from research parks, students, faculty, or graduates.

The fund is a co-investment fund, meaning it cannot be the sole investor in any fund. The fund has invested $3.2 million in firms. Those companies have received matching outside investments of $15.9 million.

The Momentum Fund’s investment was the first time a BioPark resident has received an investment from the fund, said James L. Hughes, senior vice president and chief enterprise and economic development officer for the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

“We are thrilled to see ARMR close their funding round with support from the Maryland Momentum Fund,” he said in a statement. “They are the first University of Maryland BioPark tenant to secure this funding, and we hope to see more of our startup companies receive funding in the future.”

ARMR came to the BioPark from outside the Maryland region. Ihenacho is a graduate of Georgia Tech and founded the company in Boston. It moved to Maryland, where ARMR became one of the first companies to take up residence in the BioPark’s Graduate Research Innovation District (GRID) in the former Lions Brothers Building.

Maryland, Ihenacho said, had the right mix of what he thought the company needed to grow.

“Given the resources in the region … this made sense,” he said. 

He cited some University of Maryland-specific resources like the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center. There are also military resources, like Fort Detrick, and proximity to the Pentagon.

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