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Funding, mentoring, hiring: How these 9 orgs collaborate with universities

For Universities Month, we asked our Talent and Ecosystem Builder companies about their partnerships with higher education institutions.

The UM BioPark campus. (Courtesy photo)

This sponsored content is a part of Universities Month of's editorial calendar. The organizations appearing in this article are Talent and Ecosystem Builder clients.

As hubs for research, education and innovation, universities are foundational elements of a local tech scene.

Whether as training grounds for the next generation of technologists or as incubators for new business ideas, higher education institutions have a lot to offer to startups, corporations and other ecosystem supporters like law firms, accelerator programs and economic development groups. Some of these orgs offer internships or early career programs for talent pipelining, while others supply funding, mentorship and additional resources to help college-based founders establish their companies and bring their products to market. No matter what form these partnerships take, they serve to strengthen their local communities and shape the future of the tech industry.

For the month of March,’s reporting has explored the theme of Universities for our editorial calendar. For some additional perspectives, we asked our Talent and Ecosystem Builder companies the following question:

How does your org interact and partner with higher education institutions, ie. collaborating with student and alumni groups; or supporting tech transfer, commercialization and advancements coming from academia?

Here are some replies from their teams, and if you like what you see, follow the links to companies’ Culture Pages to learn more and explore open roles.

Ballard Spahr

“Ballard is a major player in the student founder and higher education space. In addition to our partnerships with tech transfer offices, through which our intellectual property and corporate attorneys work with founders and universities to spin out innovative technologies from higher-ed institutions, Ballard has also been steadfast in working with ‘dorm room startups’ to bootstrap from inception through exit. BASE (the ‘Ballard Academy for Student Entrepreneurs’) is in its 10th year and is the longest running in-house law firm accelerator of its kind in the country, with alumni stemming from over 30 universities. BASE has provided select founders with pro-bono legal services, monthly learning sessions, mentorship opportunities, access to Ballard’s national network, accounting office hours with national accounting firm Wipfli and more. Our attorneys also teach at law and business institutions to ensure that the practical aspects of practicing law are being passed to the incoming generation of lawyers.” — Kimberly Klayman, partner

Ben Franklin Technology Partners

“Ben Franklin supports later-stage discovery and commercialization efforts by all the region’s research institutions. From participation in institutional translational research programs all the way through to investments in company spinouts, this engagement gives Ben Franklin line-of-sight to the next generation of technology advancements, refracted through a commercialization lens.” — Anthony Green, chief scientific officer

Delaware Prosperity Partnership

“Delaware Prosperity Partnership leads Delaware’s statewide efforts to attract, grow and retain businesses. Collaborating with economic development partners throughout the state, the DPP team works with site selectors, executives and developers who are focused on where to site or grow existing Delaware businesses and new-to-Delaware businesses. Along with helping to review potential sites, cost-of-living analyses and funding opportunities such as tax credits and incentives, DPP connects leaders of these expanding and locating businesses with local personnel, programs and institutions that can help them fill their workforce needs. Many of these talent pipelines are created with Delaware’s institutions of higher education.

DPP also actively works to advance a culture of innovation in Delaware, supporting innovators and startups as they launch and grow by connecting them with what they need to succeed. Through this work, DPP collaborates frequently with the University of Delaware’s Horn Entrepreneurship Program and Delaware State University’s Department of Business and helps the students, graduates and faculty of these and other Delaware institutions of higher education who are founders and entrepreneurs of business ventures access necessary resources. For example, the DPP-coordinated Startup302 pitch competition brings together higher education representatives and other members of Delaware’s innovation ecosystem to award non-dilutive grant funding, mentorship and networking opportunities to startups with founders from underrepresented demographics.” — Susan Coulby, senior manager of communications


“Giving back to people who are starting off in their careers is something that is incredibly important to me. I would not be where I am now without the amazing people who mentored me during my time as a college student.

Throughout my time at Fastmail, I have been given opportunities to speak with other young professionals in the Philly area looking to break into the technology world at places like Hopeworks, through events like Philly Tech Week and in one-on-one informational interviews. Additionally, I have mentored some incredible college students through the Fastmail marketing team’s internship program.

Mentorship is central to my practice as a content creator. Mentoring others has not only given me the opportunity to have a hand in shaping the future leaders of Philly’s technology community, but it has also expanded my creative potential by advancing my storytelling skills and building up my professional network.

I’m excited to return to my alma mater, Muhlenberg College, at the end of this month to talk about the intersection of technology and the liberal arts with a group of Communications 101 students.” — Haley Hnatuk, content marketing coordinator


“At Fearless we engage directly with professors who have student projects and seek tech mentors. Several Fearless team members have been guest speakers in classes and capstone courses teaching agile methodologies. We host Fearless student groups (hackathons, engineering clubs) and held an open house during CIAA to invite students to engage with our team members. Additionally, our team works with local HBCUs and universities for internship programs through career services, alumni and professors. We’re currently accepting applications for our summer internship program.” — LaToya Staten, director of impact

Morgan Lewis

“Educational institutions throughout Philadelphia and the surrounding area offer students a deep and rich experience preparing them for the next chapters in their lives. These institutions are also home to advanced study programs from which important technology, intellectual property and businesses are developed. These institutions are important participants of the broader startup ecosystem, and we work closely with them to support their efforts. We conduct programming designed for leaders, students and other participants of these programs to help them succeed in their efforts from transitioning technology from academia to commercialization. Further, we work collaboratively with entrepreneurs and universities in facilitating the commercialization of early-stage technologies and putting into place the legal structures to effectuate some. We are proud to take an active role in the local educational and technology commercialization efforts and to support these future community leaders and their business endeavors.” — Brian Slough, of counsel

NEXT powered by Shulman Rogers

“At NEXT, powered by Shulman Rogers, we are actively involved with area universities, including Georgetown, George Washington, University of Maryland, American, Johns Hopkins, Howard and George Mason. We have provided educational webinars to students, alumni groups and faculty covering corporate, employment, IP and financing related topics related to launching and scaling a new company. We have supported pitch competitions for student entrepreneurs, and brought leaders together from the entrepreneurial programs at these universities.” — Anthony Millin, founder of NEXT powered by Shulman Rogers, venture capital partner and serial entrepreneur


“TEDCO has a robust history of collaborating with higher education institutions through various programs like the Maryland Innovation Initiative (MII) and the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund (MSCRF). Both programs fund university research projects, and MII also advances innovative research to the commercial sector. To further our impact, the MII program has started expanding our reach and collaboration efforts beyond the five research institutions in Maryland (Johns Hopkins University; Morgan State University; University of Maryland, Baltimore; University of Maryland, Baltimore County; and University of Maryland, College Park); recently we launched a pilot program with additional universities — Bowie State University and Frostburg State University — with the goal of creating a robust entrepreneurial culture at these two comprehensive anchor institutions.” — Arti Santhanam, Ph.D., executive director, Maryland Innovation Initiative

University of Maryland BioPark

“The work of technology commercialization and advancement is exciting business at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB). Each year, UMB grows 10 new companies from the dynamic health science developed by University faculty, while another 40 or so companies license our technology to enhance their work. The founding mission of the UM BioPark is to support and maximize the potential of these commercialization efforts and similar initiatives generated throughout the life sciences sector. Our BioPark lab and office environment provides a home for companies to develop new drugs, therapeutics, devices, and more. Right now, we have a few dozen companies in our mix: leading global firms like Catalent, Illumina, BD and Pharmaron; university spin-outs like Gliknik, KaloCyte and NextStep; high-growth, next-gen ventures like Vita Therapeutics and Astek Diagnostics; and a number of other really amazing, promising startups. Combined, they represent an incredible array of scientific advancements from both the academic and private sector. In addition to providing space for these companies, the BioPark fosters partnerships between our tenants and UMB experts, strengthening and advancing their novel work.” — Jane Shaab, executive director, University of Maryland BioPark; associate vice president for economic development, University of Maryland, Baltimore


Looking to learn more? Check out all the Talent and Ecosystem Builder companies here, and find out about their missions, cultures and open positions.

P.S. If you’re curious about’s services for your own org, find more info here and connect with us.

Explore Talent and Ecosystem Builder companies

Companies: NEXT powered by Shulman Rogers / Delaware Prosperity Partnership / Fastmail / Fearless / University of Maryland BioPark / TEDCO / Ballard Spahr / Ben Franklin Technology Partners / Morgan Lewis
Series: Universities Month 2023 / Ecosystem Builder Monthly Prompts / Company Builder Monthly Prompts

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