Maryland is well-known for its world-class academic institutions, which are shipping everything from medical device innovations to education technology. While the narrative tends to focus on grants and inventions delivered by faculty, students are changing the way we think about entrepreneurship on campus.
Student entrepreneurs in Baltimore have built everything from cybersecurity tools to hyperloop pods, all while juggling full course loads and the other demands of university life. They manage to bring innovations to market despite their commitments, youth, and, often, a lack of industry experience.
As young entrepreneurs come into focus, it’s become more clear how valuable they can be, and how much work there is left to do to engage them.
I’m an organizer of Innov8MD, Maryland’s first intercollegiate entrepreneurship conference. We hope to provide a platform for schools across the state to collaborate and support student entrepreneurs regardless of their institutional affiliation. More than 40 student startups from nine local universities will be there, including ventures from Johns Hopkins, MICA, Towson, UMD, UMBC, UB, UMB, Loyola, and Bowie State.
While most Maryland universities have resources dedicated to supporting student entrepreneurs, we hope the reasons behind that support can encourage conversations around further investment. There is more that we can do as a region to make sure that students have the ability to turn their ideas into reality, and there are more reasons than ever to commit to this goal.
Here are three reasons why it’s important for Baltimore to foster student entrepreneurship:
To retain talent…
We need to show students that Maryland is the best place to build their startup by highlighting our innovation community, low cost of living, and robust set of resources for young ventures. If a student is familiar with the resources available within Maryland’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, they are less likely to startup elsewhere. Plus, having more local, innovative companies may help us better retain the young talent coming out of our universities.
To solve next-generation problems…
Through their institutions, students are exposed to the bleeding edge of academic discovery, research developments and technological innovation. Since faculty can be limited in their ability to bring these inventions to market, it’s often student teams who take these ideas out of the lab and into the world, where everyone can benefit.
To create more entrepreneurs…
It’s no secret that small businesses and startup companies contribute greatly to a region’s economic growth, especially when it comes to new job creation. College is a time when students decide what career they want to pursue, and if we can nudge them towards entrepreneurship over more traditional career paths, Maryland gets to benefit from the millions of dollars and myriad jobs that their companies often generate.
Interested in what students are building, or want to learn more about how you can support young entrepreneurs? Check out Innov8MD on November 9 from 5-8 p.m. at Spark Baltimore.
Learn from renowned speakers, explore the resources available to entrepreneurs in Maryland, and find your next cofounder, employee, or investment. Register online for a discount over tickets at the door – all proceeds go towards supporting student entrepreneurship in Maryland.-30-