The University System of Maryland recently named a leader for its early stage investment fund that is seeking to back early-stage startups.
On July 24, David Wise began as director of the Maryland Momentum Fund.
Initially announced last year and launched in March, the fund is seeking to provide early-stage capital that can help develop startups that launch out of research and inventions that originate at state universities. Startups working at USM-affiliated incubators or other facilities such as the University of Maryland BioPark in Baltimore are also eligible, as well as those founded by Maryland grads.
The fund has an initial commitment of $10 million from the University System of Maryland, and leaders want it to grow to $25 million.
Wise brings experience working with startups in the region.
After retiring as CEO of the Genetics & IVF Institute, Wise shifted his focus to helping innovation in Maryland. He quickly got involved around the Baltimore community, becoming a venture advisor to Abell Foundation President Robert Embry. He also lent his advice by joining advisory boards for UM Ventures, Betamore and the Lifebridge Bioincubator at Sinai Hospital, and judging pitch competitions such as the AccelerateBaltimore finals and Beta City.
He said he already began visiting each of the 12 campuses and making connections. Existing ties to the investment community will also help where the fund’s investments require a one-to-one match by outside investors.
said the fund aiming to provide support to startups that can help as they develop following initial seed funding. He said the timeline would likely fall 12-18 months before a Series A round. At launch, the fund was envisioned as providing investments of $50,000-$500,000.
“There is a perceived need in the market generally for this type of investment,” Wise said.
Along with addressing funding needs directly, Wise also believes more startup successes can create a “virtuous cycle” that leads to more interest and funding in the area. The recent acquisition of University of Maryland School of Medicine spinout Living Pharma is one example of an event that can help. Wise believes the fund will play a role in creating more in the future.