Accelerators / Communities / Entrepreneurs / Incubators / Nonprofits

MAGIC and Innovators of Progress join forces with new sponsorship

The deal overlaps with Innovators of Progress's executive director joining MAGIC's board. The organizations' leaders plan to use the sponsorship to enable a greater reach in rural Maryland.

Left to right: Graham Dodge, executive director of MAGIC, stands with Innovators of Progress and new MAGIC board member Markus Proctor. (Courtesy photo)
Two Maryland-based organizations dedicated to economic and technological innovation — the Mid-Atlantic Gigabit Innovation Collaboratory (MAGIC) and Innovators of Progress (IOP) — recently linked up with a new deal that lets IOP fundraise under MAGIC’s nonprofit status.

A statement announcing MAGIC’s new financial sponsorship of IOP noted that the move allows IOP to accept donations and scale its signature pre-accelerator program for full-time undergraduate, graduate and vocational students. The partnership will also change the program criteria to incorporate two-year degree-seekers, as well as bring more focus to rural Maryland areas — for instance, Carroll County, in whose county seat of Westminster MAGIC is based.

“MAGIC’s mission to build a technology ecosystem that creates and nurtures entrepreneurship is in lockstep with the mission of Innovators of Progress,” Markus Proctor, IOP’s founder and executive director, said in a statement. “Working together will be extraordinarily beneficial to our region’s ability to cultivate and retain technology-enabled ventures.”

The sponsorship deal also coincides with Proctor, who founded IOP in Prince George’s County before the pandemic made operations virtual, joining MAGIC’s board of directors.

The IOP entrepreneurship program offers students roughly $15,000 in combined funding. Those funds come in the form of seed capital, tuition assistance, and paid internships. Students also have the chance to earn $140,000 in seed funding through a pipeline partnership into Conscious Venture Lab’s accelerator program.

MAGIC’s executive director Graham Dodge sees programs like IOP as a way to take advantage of the new remote workforce moving into rural communities like Westminster, as well as give these new residents a reason to stay. Expect IOP’s 2023 cohort to feature a diversity of not just education level, but also geography.

“We’re seeing it as a part of the Great Resignation as well: people starting their own businesses, hanging their own shingle,” Dodge told “We can be there to help support those entrepreneurs. The advocacy for entrepreneurship starts young. [It’s important to help] students understand how, where and when they can start a business.”

Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.
Companies: MAGIC

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