A lack of capital is frequently cited as a barrier to creating more startups in the state. Now the University System of Maryland is looking to respond directly to that challenge by expanding its investment fund for companies with university ties.
The USM Early Stage Investment Fund is aiming to raise a $25 million. Of that, $10 million would come directly from USM over four years, while the other $15 million would come from outside sources.
USM’s board approved the fund earlier in June. An external investment board is also set to be created to oversee the fund, said Tom Sadowski, who will oversee the fund in his role as Vice Chancellor for Economic Development.
USM initially approved an investment fund for tech transfer in 2014, and invested $400,000 in companies like Harpoon Medical. Officials decided that the program needed to be expanded.
“This is a well-conceived, bold initiative that will allow the USM to help push Maryland toward the success areas such as Silicon Valley and the North Carolina ‘research triangle’ have experienced in technology transfer,” USM Chancellor Robert Caret said in a statement.
The fund is expected to be open to companies that were founded by students, recent grads and faculty and alumni. Officials also want to include companies that licensed university-developed technologies.
USM officials say they have already identified 17 companies in health, cybersecurity and energy that would benefit from the funding. Initial plans call for investments of $50,000-$500,000, with anything larger requiring a match from another investor.
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