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UMB debuting master’s program in health and social innovation this fall

The in-person portion of the program will be based at the University of Maryland BioPark's innovation hub, The GRID, potentially providing connections to people already engaged in the work the students are approaching.

Inside the GRID at University of Maryland BioPark. (Courtesy photo)

Along with the building of nine impact models to spread art, music and support for refugees, the recent GiveBackHack Baltimore brought the announcement of a new graduate program for entrepreneurship.

The Master of Science in Health and Social Innovation is launching in Fall 2019 at the University of Maryland, Baltimore to help catalyze new ventures tackling health and social challenges in the local community.

The degree program will focus on applying principles of innovation, entrepreneurship and design thinking to solve complex challenges, said Jenny Owens, faculty executive director at UMB’s Graduate Research Innovation District, better known as The GRID.

It’s offering three concentrations:

  • Health science
  • User experience (UX)
  • Biomedical entrepreneurship

The program is seeking people who are passionate about making change, and may want to apply that toward starting something new: “We’re really looking for people that care,” Owens said. The program will have a cohort model, with 20 to 30 people, and ideally have experience in a diversity of fields.

The two-year program will include practical work on projects directly affecting health and social well-being alongside work in areas like market analysis, marketing and policy.

“People are going to be out in the community. They’re going to be doing this work,” Owens said.

In terms of structure, the goal is to provide a schedule that fits into the lives of participants, Owens said. There’s no GRE requirement. Half of the coursework will be online, and the in-person half will be held at classroom space within The GRID.

The innovation hub at the University of Maryland BioPark will also be one of the settings for the program’s “Impact Labs” that dig into areas such as customer discovery, building a business model, social policy and more. Housing the program at an existing coworking space puts the program in the mix of startups, faculty and entrepreneurial resources from the community, potentially providing connections to people already engaged in the work the students are approaching.

“There are advantages to just running into people, and that would be part of what we’re trying to cultivate here,” Owens said.

The program is another sign that Baltimore’s community of social impact-minded entrepreneurship is becoming more formalized in areas like physical spaces, programming and institutional support. Along with linking with the innovation community, Owens said the program’s participants and ventures also provide a way for the program “to support the whole health of the region.”

Companies: University of Maryland, Baltimore / University of Maryland / University of Maryland BioPark

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