Finance / Funding / Investing / Venture capital

Money Moves: Morgan State receives almost $10M in STEM research grants

Also, Haystack Oncology raised a $56 million Series A, and Fearless earned a five-year contract with the National Archives and Records Administration.

A Morgan State student at the Cybersecurity Assurance & Policy Center. (Courtesy photo)

Money Moves is a column where we chart the funding raises of tech companies across the region. Have a tip? Email us at .

Department of Defense, National Science Foundation grant Morgan State millions

At the beginning of the month, Morgan State University announced a five-year, $9 million grant from the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Office of Naval Research. This grant will fund research for diverse knowledge bases in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). It will also support student research on these topics at the post-doctorate, graduate and undergraduate levels. Much of this research will be conducted by the recently launched Center for Equitable Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Systems and Cybersecurity Assurance and Policy Center.

Morgan State was one of three HBCUs to receive a grant as part of the DoD’s HBCU and Minority-Serving Institutions Research and Education Program. The funding will support Morgan State’s pursuit of designation as a high-level research institution which is determined by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

“The award from [the Office of Naval Research] further strengthens our efforts as a recognized research institution and advances our goal of achieving a Carnegie Classification of R1 (very high research activity) status over the next ten years,” said Morgan State President David K. Wilson in a statement. “This is the first of many important research projects we foresee the center[s] undertaking.”

Morgan State also announced today that it received a grant for $596,383 from the National Science Foundation (NSF). This money will be used to research human responsiveness to signs of fire in different situations. The findings from this research will help improve fire safety systems. Grant funds apply until June 2024 and will also support a graduate student research assistant.

The study, officially called “Detecting Changes in Developing Fires and Posed Risk,” will involve human participation in simulated fire scenarios. Justin Bonny, principal investigator of this project and assistant professor of psychology at Morgan State, brought in James A. Milke, professor and chair of the Department of Fire Protection Engineering at the University of Maryland, as a co-principal investigator to combine expertise in psychology and fire engineering.

“Theories of grounded cognition emphasize that how a person perceives and processes information is shaped by the environment they are within,” said Bonny in a statement. “We are applying this to fires to better understand how the same developing fire occurring in, say, for example, a kitchen may be perceived differently than in a bedroom. This allows us to investigate how different properties of developing fires are connected to perception and decision-making.”

Justin Bonny headshot in front of a blurry grey background

Justin Bonny. (Courtesy photo)

Haystack Oncology raises a $56 million Series A

Biotech company Haystack Oncology announced today that it raised $56 million in Series A funding. The raise will be used to continue developing the company’s personalized cancer diagnostic test.

The round was led by Catalio Capital Management, which cofounded Haystack. Bruker, Exact Ventures, and Alexandria Venture Investments also participated.

“Haystack’s mission is to deliver earlier, more precise detection of residual and recurrent tumors to personalize therapy and dramatically improve outcomes for patients with cancer,” said Dan Edelstein, president and CEO of Haystack, in a statement. “With the help of this funding, combined with Haystack’s truly differentiated technology backed by decades of liquid biopsy research, we are uniquely positioned to ensure that the right patients receive the right treatment at the right time, which has long been the vision of precision oncology.”

Dan Edelstein headshot in front of a white background with swirling pink and yellow lines.

Dan Edelstein. (Courtesy photo)

The company was founded in 2021 by Bert Vogelstein, Ken Kinzler, Nick Papadopoulos and Joshua Cohen of Johns Hopkins University. Isaac Ro, former CFO of healthcare company Thrive Earlier Detection, joined Haystack’s board of directors as executive chairman; Diamantis Xylas, Catalio’s head of research, also joined the board as part of this round.

Fearless wins contract for $65 million over five years

Downtown- and Inner Harbor-area SaaS company Fearless won a five-year contract with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) for a new electronic records archives (ERA) 2.0 system.

The contract for the first phase is worth $1.1 million, with the potential $65.7 million over five years. This system will allow government officials to submit records for storage in the ERA 2.0 archive, as well as enable NARA staffers’ ability to search for them. Fearless will be in charge of making sure the system works quickly and efficiently.

“The ERA 2.0 system is a valuable resource for our democracy,” said Greg Crouse, the company’s program manager for this contract, in a statement. “Preserving government documents is an essential public service for any society with a government accountable to the people.”

The deal comes on the heels of another federal government agency, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, awarding Fearless a $67 million contract for modernizing its own platforms

More Money Moves

  • Hutch, a Baltimore incubator founded by Fearless, won a grant in October from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration as part of the “Build to Scale” program, which totals $47 million over 51 grants to support tech entrepreneurs and innovation. These funds will help Hutch expand and connect with mentors, digital services experts and government administrators.
  • Cybersecurity- and data science-focused investment firm DataTribe announced Baltimore’s Balance Theory as the winner of its fifth annual DataTribe Challenge. As the winner, the company will move forward in the investment process with DataTribe and could receive up to $2 million in seed funding.
  • TEDCO invested $750,000 in Datakwip, an analytics technology company, through its Venture Funds program. The state-founded investor also invested in medical device manufacturer NanoBioFAB through its pre-seed builder fund. Both companies are based in Frederick.
  • The Maryland Department of Commerce launched the Business Telework Assistance Grant Program this week to help small businesses create and keep jobs by providing money to buy telework equipment. The program will give out grants of up to $25,000.
  • The University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State appointed six professors as MPower professors — three from the University of Maryland, Baltimore and three from the University of Maryland, College Park. Each scholar will receive $150,000 over three years to support their salary, fund research and encourage collaboration with other professors.
Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2023 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 Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
Companies: Catalio Capital Management / Fearless / Morgan State University / University of Maryland
Series: Money Moves

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