Funding / Investing / Startups / Universities

Maryland jet engine startup raises $1.45M from USM, Abell Foundation

North American Wave Engine Corporation grew out of research at the University of Maryland College Park.

NAWEC's wave engine. (Photo courtesy University System of Maryland)

A University of Maryland College Park–born startup developing new jet propulsion technology raised $1.45 million in funding from a group of investors in the state.

The funding for North American Wave Engine Corporation was organized by the University System of Maryland Momentum Fund and the Baltimore-based Abell Foundation. Each contributed $350,000. Other investors included Gula Tech Adventures, the investment firm of Tenable cofounders Ron and Cyndi Gula, and former Harpoon Medical CEO Bill Niland also contributed funding, according to a release.

The company is developing a wave engine, which is a jet engine that does not have moving parts. The idea is to offer a cheaper and more fuel-efficient alternative to what’s currently available. It’s seeking to enter the market both for planes and aviation, as well as unmanned aerial vehicles.

The company is looking to move toward flight testing at the college’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems test site in Southern Maryland. It plans to use the funding for that activity and a new incubator near Naval Air Station Patuxent River in St. Mary’s County called TechPort @ The Airport.

Baltimore appears to factor into future plans, as well.

“We’re excited that this innovative technology is expected to seed a new industry that, looking ahead, will create manufacturing jobs in Baltimore,” Abell Foundation President Robert C. Embry, Jr. said in a statement.

The company is led by CEO Daanish Maqbool, who is currently a lecturer at UMD. Maqbool received his Ph.D. at the engineering school there, and worked on a NASA project on rocket engine cooling project for graduate research.

It’s the third investment in less than a year for the Maryland Momentum Fund, which was established by the university system to provide funding and links to other investors for startups that originated at the university. The other two investments so far went to MF Fire and NextStep Robotics.

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