Business outreach has always been a part of the charge for the Institute of Marine & Environmental Technology. But as the calendar flips over into 2015, the downtown research center’s new year’s resolution is to focus a little more on the commercial side of its mission.
To that end, IMET is creating an incubator, continuing its new fellowship program and exploring partnerships with colleges and other institutions.
“What we’re trying to build here is a culture of collaboration with industry,” said IMET Assistant Director Nick Hammond. “To do that, we’re trying to just break down the barriers and put programs in place that support that mission.”
IMET is a joint University System of Maryland research institute managed by the University of Maryland, Baltimore; University of Maryland, Baltimore County; and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. We profiled the Inner Harbor anchor over the summer.
Hammond was brought onto the downtown lab in part to lead economic development efforts. He said the new incubator will be targeted at not just tech transfer from academia, but will allow outside firms (say, startups working with IMET researchers) access to space at the Columbus Center, two-thirds of which is controlled by IMET.
“This incubator space is specifically to help foster relationships specifically with smaller … businesses who want to have a footprint in our building to work with our faculty or a footprint in downtown Baltimore,” Hammond said. “It also allows a small business to take space, even a small amount of space. It allows them access to an additional amount of programs they wouldn’t have access to on the state level.”
The incubator’s development was first reported by the Baltimore Business Journal. The incubator is supported by grants from TEDCO, Hammond said.
The Ratcliffe Environmental Entrepreneurs Fellowship includes classes in intellectual property, pitching, financing and other inside-baseball topics for those looking to transition aquaculture or other ideas from the open sea to the open market. Hammond said the eight-student program, which just wrapped its first semester of weekend classes, has been wildly successful, with some of the guest speakers spending extra time beyond their visit mentoring the students.
“We’ve had some really great speakers and they’ve been great with the students,” Hammond said. “I don’t think we could’ve hoped for anything more.”
In addition to the incubator and fellowship, IMET also offers open office hours for entrepreneurs in partnership with the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute.