Chesapeake Bay Seed Capital Fund invests $150,000 in Manta Biofuel

Company could remove algae blooms from the Bay and convert them into crude oil

Manta Biofuel

The Chesapeake Bay Seed Capital Fund has invested $150,000 into Manta Biofuel LLC, a company that produces crude oil from algae at a cost that is competitive with traditional petroleum, University of Maryland officials announce today.

The promise is this: Manta could one day skim algae right off of the Chesapeake Bay and convert it into oil, simultaneously cleaning up deadly algae blooms and providing the precursor for clean, renewable fuels.

Harmful algae blooms can choke out large swaths of the bay, depriving fish, crabs and other marine life of oxygen and blocking sunlight for underwater bay grasses. Algae blooms are caused by excess nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorous, entering into waterways, from sources such as agriculture, air deposition, septic systems, sewage treatment plants, and runoff from lawns, gardens and paved surfaces.

“Manta Biofuel has developed novel technologies for harvesting algae that address a critical threat to the Chesapeake Bay: life-killing algae blooms,” said Craig Dye, director of the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech) Ventures Program, which administers the Chesapeake Bay Seed Capital Fund. “The company has also solved key challenges for cost-effectively growing algae and converting it into oil, enabling the company to potentially compete as a viable fuel provider in the burgeoning energy field.”

Manta plans to use the funding to develop the next-generation prototype of its portable, solar-powered, floating algae harvester, which autonomously navigates through waters and collects algae.

Once collected, the algal biomass is converted by Manta into crude oil by subjecting it to high temperature and pressure in a process called hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL).

The oil produced is largely equivalent to petroleum and can be used as a drop-in replacement at the refinery level. Fuels produced from Manta’s oil are renewable and carbon-neutral.

Manta licensed its harvesting technology from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, where company co-founder Ryan Powell invented it while earning his Ph.D. at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET).

Based in Reisterstown, Manta has also received more than $530,000 in total funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) program, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Invest Maryland Challenge, TEDCO Technology Validation Program (TVP) and the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technologies REEF program.

The company recently established a large pilot production facility in Thurmont, Md.

The Chesapeake Bay Seed Capital Fund invests in Maryland-based startup companies with innovative technologies that may help improve air and water quality in the Chesapeake Bay area. The program, created in 2008, is made possible by funds from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Fund recipients are jointly selected by Mtech and DNR.

Previous recipients of Chesapeake Bay Seed Capital Fund investments include: Zymetis (now Aemetis), Traffax Inc., Smart Slopes LLC (now Furbish) and NutriGrown LLC.

New Report Gives Guidance on Growing Baltimore Medical Device Community

Baltimore

Attracting mid- to large-sized medical device companies through established innovation hubs is the biggest key to growing Baltimore into a major medical device technology sector, according to a new report released by the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech).

“Baltimore already has many of the pieces in place to support innovation hubs and a thriving medical device community,” said Martha Connolly, director of Mtech Baltimore. “This study is important because we believe Baltimore is well-positioned to be a leading center for medical devices. The expertise of the University System of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University in engineering and medicine provide great capabilities for this sector.”

The Mtech-commissioned report, “Encouraging the Development of the Medical Technology Cluster in the Greater Baltimore Region,” was conducted by the [Johns] Hopkins Graduate Student Consulting Club. The study involved extensive interviews with 20 CEOs of medical technology companies, economic development officials and investors in the Greater Baltimore Region.

The study benchmarked Baltimore against successful medical device hubs and identified bottlenecks to growing a vibrant medical device cluster, including a lack of mid- to large-sized medical device companies in Baltimore, perceived lack of experienced, C-level management and follow-on funding after initial seed funding.

medical devices

“Capital and experienced labor are a ‘chicken-and-egg’ situation. You need one to produce the other,” said Connolly. “But we believe these bottlenecks are ‘critical mass’ issues that are remedied when a hub reaches a tipping point in terms of its size.”

The report says that attaining that size, or critical mass of medical device companies, could be achieved through the following steps:

  1. Establish public-private innovation centers to attract mid- to large-sized medical device companies.
  2. Encourage larger companies not in the medical device space to enter the sector through cost-matching or grant-funded partnerships with small companies or startups.
  3. Grow local medical device companies with an increased emphasis on late-stage or emerging company funding to help companies past the seed-funding stage.

“Ideally, innovation centers are vertically integrated organizations and facilities that help startups by connecting them with the resources they need at different stages of development—from incubation, legal advice, clinical services, gap and follow-on funding to international soft landings,” said Sam Hong, the Johns Hopkins graduate student leading the study. “As private-public partnerships, these centers could also give larger companies access to economic development resources and startups in their industry. Those larger companies then support the innovation center members through capital and expertise.”

The report cites innovation hubs as a critical missing piece to the puzzle. Innovation hubs connect startups to incoming companies while lowering the barriers to entering the region. Through innovation hubs, capital becomes more accessible as venture capital and funding from the innovation center flows to startups. Experienced C-level management talent also becomes available for advising startup company leaders.

medical devices

The report’s findings were discussed during Baltimore Innovation Week at an event sponsored by the Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC) titled “Building Baltimore’s Medical Device Industry.”

“The Greater Baltimore region is fortunate to have a growing cluster of highly innovative medical technology companies fueled by an entrepreneurial environment,” said GBC President and CEO Donald Fry. “The GBC is proud to support them and is confident that this industry will eventually define the region as a medical device center.”

More in-depth recommendations, along with benchmark metrics and additional findings are available in the report, available online at: http://mtech.umd.edu/Baltimore/docs/JHGCC_Med_Tech_Report.pdf.

The study and report were compiled by Johns Hopkins graduate students Sam Hong, Katharina Schmidt, Joshua Wang, Hao Jia, Donna Cichani, Jing You and Belinda Peng.

Maryland technology companies, university faculty team to develop 16 new products through MIPS

Redox Cube

Through MIPS, Redox Power Systems LLC is working with Eric Wachsman, director of the University of Maryland Energy Research Center, to improve the strength and robustness of the company’s solid oxide fuel cells. Among the applications those fuel cells could be used for is the Redox Cube, pictured above, which produces cost-effective power using natural gas or other hydrocarbon-based fuels such as biomass, gasoline, JP-8 or diesel to electrochemically produce electricity with high efficiency and negligible emissions.

Fifteen Maryland technology startups and one medium-sized company are partnering with faculty members from the state’s public universities for projects that bring new products closer to market, University of Maryland officials announce today.

Approved through UMD’s Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) program, the research and development projects, worth $3 million, span the state, its universities and technologies, including products that advance clean or efficient energy, biotechnology, software, construction, chemical sensors and aquaculture.

Participating companies contribute $1.6 million for the projects, while MIPS provides $1.4 million. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency also provided support.

All MIPS funding goes towards the faculty research for each project.

Approved through a competitive process, winning projects, segmented by institution, include:

Frostburg State University

  • Tutela Industries LLC, based in Baltimore, works with George Rinard, professor, computer science and information technologies, to expand the clinical and patient-facing mobile app functionality of the company’s HIPAA compliant patient engagement platform, which improves communication across the care continuum. ($140,900)

University of Maryland, Baltimore

  • Centrexion Therapeutics, based in Baltimore, teams with Man-Kyo Chung, associate professor, school of dentistry, to develop efficacy tests for the company’s new drugs aimed at improving the treatment of chronic pain conditions such as osteoarthritis. ($141,000)
  • JPLC Associates LLC, based in Baltimore, collaborates with Byongyong Yi, professor, department of radiation oncology, to extend the capabilities of the company’s Raven QA product, a unified and comprehensive quality assurance system for radiation therapy machines. ($152,840)

University of Maryland, Baltimore County

  • Bahari Energy LLC, based in Rockville, works with Weidong Zhu, professor, department of mechanical engineering, to test the performance of the company’s Wind Tower, a wind power generation product with a unique design that can be retrofitted onto (and inside of) urban, suburban, business, industrial and residential buildings. ($160,000)
  • RedShred LLC, based in Baltimore, teams with Zareen Syed, professor, and Tim Finin, professor, department of computer science and electrical engineering, to expand the company’s semantically enhanced open information extraction software system, which takes complex business documents, such as requests for quotes and proposals, quickly extracts important information, and offers users an efficient way to review opportunities with minimal manual intervention. ($185,000)

University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

  • HY-TEK Bio LLC, based in Dayton, collaborates with Feng Chen, associate professor, Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology, to developing a practical and economical system to grow microalgae with chicken manure nutrient in a large pilot system. ($303,213)
WeatherBug Home

Pictured: Earth Networks’ WeatherBug Home mobile application. WeatherBug Home combines Earth Networks’ big weather data with smart meter data and the power of two-way connected thermostats to automatically deliver energy efficiency given the weather, the #1 driver of home energy use. UMD faculty are working with the company to expand the functionality of WeatherBug Home.

University of Maryland, College Park

  • Crab Machinery LLC, based in Woolford, works with Yang Tao, professor, Fischell Department of Bioengineering, to develop a modern, imaging-guided mechanical crabmeat picker that incorporates machine intelligence, including machine vision, robotics, and electronic controls. ($192,750)
  • Earth Networks Corporation, based in Germantown, teams with Jungho Kim, professor, department of mechanical engineering, to expand the functionality of WeatherBug Home,the company’s user-friendly and powerful home energy tool, which combines data from utilities with local weather information to save energy and cut cooling and heating costs. ($426,952)
  • Johnny Oysterseed LLC, based in Saint Leonard, collaborates with Chandrasekhar Thamire, Keystone lecturer, department of mechanical engineering, to develop an oyster aquaculture system that offers higher productivity and cost savings for oyster farmers. ($242,674)
  • N5 Sensors Inc., based in Germantown, works with Thomas Murphy, professor and director, Institute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics, to demonstrate a smartphone or tablet-based sensor for detecting toxic gases in ambient air, for use by industrial workers, hazmat crews, fire-fighters, police, security crews or civilians. ($136,964)
  • nanoDERM Sciences Inc., based in Derwood, teams with Srinivasa Raghavan, professor, department of chemical and biomolecular engineering, to improve the colloidal stability of antibacterial, drug-loaded HydroDEX™ nanogels for the effective treatment of bacterial infections, including those caused by multidrug-resistant (MDR) pathogens. ($135,000)
  • PaverGuide Inc., based in Worton, collaborates with Allen Davis, professor, department of civil and environmental engineering, to provide research and development support for a sub-base material to be used with PaverGuide, a base material for permeable paving that also reduces sediment, nitrogen, and phosphorus runoff into the Chesapeake Bay. ($136,783)
  • Pavement Corporation, based in Fort Washington, works with Charles Schwartz, professor and chair, department of civil and environmental engineering, to confirm the material parameters and performance of pavement patches constructed using the infrared repair process and to develop accompanying standard procedures, quality control measures, and model specifications. ($134,860)
  • Redox Power Systems LLC, based in College Park, teams with Eric Wachsman, director, University of Maryland Energy Research Center, to improve the strength and robustness of the company’s solid oxide fuel cells. ($139,097)
  • Remedium Technologies Inc., based in College Park, works with Srinivasa Raghavan, professor, department of chemical and biomolecular engineering, to develop a hemostatic foam that can stop bleeding during minimally invasive surgeries without applying compression or converting to an open procedure. ($135,000)
  • XChanger Companies Inc., based in Annapolis, collaborates with Reinhard Radermacher, professor, department of mechanical engineering, to evaluate the energy-saving potential and thermal comfort of the company’s air delivery unit, which initial studies have shown yield potential HVAC operating savings of between 18-31 percent. ($248,048)

Four participating companies are from Baltimore and four are from Montgomery County, while three are from the Maryland Eastern Shore, two are from southern Maryland, two are from College Park and one is from Annapolis.

Projects are subject to final contract negotiations.

This is the 56th round of MIPS grants. The program has supported research projects with more than 500 different Maryland companies since 1987.

Commercial products benefiting from MIPS have generated more than $30.3 billion in revenue and directly added more than 6,600 current jobs to the state’s economy. MIPS-sponsored R&D has made key contributions to successful products such as Martek Biosciences’ nutritional oils, Hughes Communications’ HughesNet™, MedImmune’s Synagis®, and Black & Decker’s Bullet® Speed Tip Masonry Drill Bit, WellDoc’s mobile diabetes management platform, and CSA Medical’s diseased-tissue ablation platform.

For information about the historical economic impact of the MIPS program, an independent study titled “An Analysis of the Impacts of MIPS Program Spending and the Commercialization of MIPS Funded Projects on the State of Maryland,” by Richard Clinch, from the Jacob France Institute at the University of Baltimore, is available online.

MIPS is a program of the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech) in the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland.

Redox Named Best Green Incubator Company in Maryland for 2015

Redox Power Systems

Redox Power Systems, an Mtech Technology Advancement Program (TAP) incubator company developing fuel cells and distributed power generation systems for commercial, industrial, residential, military and mobile applications, has won the 2015 Maryland Incubator Company of the Year Award for Best Environment/Energy Company.

The award was presented to Bryan Blackburn and Tom Langdo of Redox, Eric Wachsman of the University of Maryland, and Craig Dye of Mtech at the Maryland Incubator Company of the Year Awards ceremony on June 4 at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Md.

“Redox is truly honored to be recognized as an Incubator Company of the Year, which is a result of the hard work and efforts of the Redox team,” said Bryan Blackburn, Acting Chief Executive Officer, co-founder, and Chief Technology Officer of Redox. “We are proud to do business in Maryland and look forward to being a driver of significant job creation in the state. We would like to thank Mtech and the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland for helping us as we grow.”

Co-founded by Professor Eric Wachsman, director of the University of Maryland Energy Research Center (UMERC), Redox is commercializing Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) technologies with high power density and lower operating temperatures, enabling the company to drastically reduce the cost, size, and weight of reliable on-site electrical generation systems.

Among the technologies available to convert hydrocarbon-based fuels (e.g., natural gas) to electricity, SOFCs uniquely have an energy conversion efficiency of 45-65 percent, which is nearly twice the efficiency of conventional internal combustion engines.  In combined heat and power applications, the energy conversion efficiency can approach 90 percent. The modular nature of Redox’s products allows the tailoring of systems to a broad range of power generation capacities and fuel options.

Redox Power Systems fuel cell

The Maryland Incubator Company of the Year Awards publicly recognize achievements by current clients and graduates of all Maryland incubators and provides a forum for the nominees to increase their visibility in the business, technology, and investment communities. The Best Environment/Energy Company category recognizes companies that produce products or provide services that minimize damage to the environment.

Winning companies were selected based on their goals and success in achieving their objectives. Judges considered factors such as technology or product development, intellectual property, increase in employee numbers, growth in revenue or earnings, engagement of significant customers and strategic partners, receipt of awards or grants, attraction of outside investors, innovation, self-sufficiency, impact on the region and usage of the incubator’s services.

Redox has a long history with the Clark School’s Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech). In 2012, the company was a winner in the University of Maryland $75K Business Plan Competition. That same year, Redox entered Mtech’s Venture Accelerator (VA) program, which speeds the advancement of promising early stage technology companies at UMD through intensive business guidance. Redox graduated from VA program after only one quarter. In 2014, the company received an Mtech Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) program grant to characterize the strength, performance, and reliability of enhancements Redox is making to its SOFCs. In late 2014, Redox entered the TAP incubator, which provides high-tech on-campus workspace and continued expert business guidance.

Bay Bloom Wins Inaugural “Terp Tank” Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program Sophomore Capstone Project Competition

Bay Bloom team

Bay Bloom, a proposed company that would develop and sell an all-natural, algae-based fertilizer, won first place and $500 in the first annual Terp Tank Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program (EIP) Capstone Project Competition, held on Monday, May 11 at the University of Maryland, with more than 200 people attending.

Bay Bloom is a company idea developed by EIP students Jake Webb (Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science), Andrew Dallas (Aerospace Engineering and Computer Science), Ellen Martin (Civil Engineering–Environmental track), and Shriya Gupta (Finance and Information Systems.).

The team proposed developing an organic, algae-based fertilizer with essential components—nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium—as well as a rich array of micronutrients to stimulate plant growth. Bay Bloom’s fertilizer would release its nutrients slowly, giving plants longer access to growth stimulants while also reducing runoff into the watershed.

Bay Bloom

The algae would be grown in raceway ponds adjacent to (and using) water from the Chesapeake Bay, which would be filtered by the algae and returned as clean water throughout the process.

The Bay Bloom team estimates its fertilizer would cost $.12 per pound, which puts it in line with commercially available products.

UMD algae expert Patrick Kangas, Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Technology, provided samples for the team to work with, while Civil & Environmental Engineering lecturer Natasha Andrade mentored the team.

“I definitely want to keep developing Bay Bloom,” said Webb. “This summer we will test the fertilizer in the UMD Public Health Garden and see if it really works. We might also try and produce some packaging, get algae from Dr. Kangas and sell it at farmers’ markets nearby.”

Bay Bloom

SAT Showdown, with an idea for a turn-based, online, multiplayer SAT prep game, took second place in the competition. Third-place winner Bloomies proposed developing a reusable diaper made out of recycled materials.

“The EIP Capstone Project and Terp Tank Competition are the culmination of two years of EIP,” said Ryan Elza, academic program specialist for EIP and organizer of Terp Tank, himself a UMD Honors College alumnus. “Capstone projects address the global necessity to develop and implement solutions to critical social and environmental concerns in ways that are both technologically viable and economically sustainable.”

For their capstone, EIP second-semester sophomores worked in teams to develop a for-profit business plan that achieves a multiple bottom line of both profitability and social benefit.

“Three of our EIP classes were project-based, where we pitched ideas and formed groups around those ideas,” said Webb. “But they were all built around the first class, where we learned the entrepreneurial mindset, a better way of thinking about things. Applied over time, I saw the projects I worked on get better every year.

“Another element they teach in EIP is having a business that is as disruptive and as impactful as possible. This way of thinking definitely influenced our idea for Bay Bloom.”

Terp Tank judges included: Martha Connolly, Director, Mtech Baltimore; Erica Estrada-Liou, Director of Curriculum & Experiential Learning, Academy for Innovation & Entrepreneurship; Ronnie Gist, Associate Director, Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) program; and Adam VanWagner, Community & Student Programs Manager, Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship.

Daniel Rochkind, UMD Honors College alumnus and COO/CFO of Marker LLC, generously sponsored the Terp Tank award.

About the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program (EIP)

The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program (EIP) provides University of Maryland Honors College freshmen and sophomores with an interdisciplinary, living and learning education to help build the entrepreneurial mindsets, skill sets, and relationships invaluable to developing innovative, impactful solutions to today’s problems. A joint program of the Honors College and the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech), EIP has a proven pedigree of successful creativity and innovation-related education and achievement. Mtech has been a leading force in entrepreneurial education and innovation for more than 25 years. EIP is based directly on Mtech’s groundbreaking Hinman CEOs program, the first undergraduate living-learning entrepreneurship program in the United States.

Pavement Corporation, Prince George’s County to Fix Potholes Year-Round with New, High-Tech, Environmentally Friendly Process

infrared asphalt repair

University of Maryland creates quality assurance specifications for infrared asphalt repair

While spring is the usual time for fixing potholes, it will now be done year-round in Prince George’s County thanks to a two-year pilot program with Fort Washington-based Pavement Corporation. The program introduces a new, high-technology asphalt repair process that is less expensive, more effective, more environmentally friendly and can be done even in winter.

“Potholes are a quality of life issue, especially for people in Prince George’s County right now,” said Derrick Davis, vice chair of the County Council. “We are excited and proud of this program between Prince George’s County and Pavement Corporation, as it employs the latest technologies to save our taxpayers millions of dollars in car repairs through faster, longer-lasting pothole patches performed year-round.”

The new process, called infrared asphalt repair, was validated for quality assurance through a year-long study at the University of Maryland by Charles Schwartz, professor and chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Both the Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) program and Pavement Corporation provided funding for the study.

Infrared repair involves heating existing asphalt with an infrared machine until it reaches a soft, workable state. A rejuvenating compound is added to keep the asphalt pliant, after which a small amount of new or recycled asphalt is leveled on top. Because of its heated state, the patch fuses seamlessly with the adjacent asphalt, making for a smoother, longer-lasting patch.

pavement corporation truck

Infrared technology lowers repair costs by nearly 50 percent, according to Pavement Corporation Founder and President Jay Perry.

“Prince George’s County is now on the cutting edge of technology for fixing its roads thanks to this pilot program,” said Perry. “In addition, as a Prince George’s County-based company, we expect to add five to 10 jobs in the short-term and 20 to 30 more if our projections for expansion come to fruition.”

Pavement Corporation, founded in 1995, performs a broad range of paving, maintenance and repair services for customers such as Walmart, Target, CVS, Lowe’s, Sears, Bob Evans, and BJ’s Wholesale Club in Maryland, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Virginia and West Virginia.

Infrared road repair has been utilized by a handful of U.S. states, including Florida, Colorado, New York, New Jersey, Tennessee and Arizona, according to Perry.

Since the process is relatively new, few guidelines were in place to ensure the quality of patches. That’s where the University of Maryland stepped in.

Pavement Corporation worked with Schwartz and graduate student Chris Leininger to produce construction specifications and a quality assurance process to provide the company with guidelines to make sure that each patch is conducted optimally.

“The depth of penetration of the heating process is very important,” said Leininger, who is basing his M.S. thesis on infrared road repair. “You don’t want to char the asphalt but, you have to heat it to a specific depth.”

Schwartz has become a proponent of infrared road repair.

“The results of this study should promote the acceptance of infrared asphalt repair as a cost-effective, long-term technique for maintaining roads in the U.S.,” he explained.

The University of Maryland study was made possible by the Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) program, which provides grants for university-based research projects that help Maryland companies develop technology-based products. Both MIPS and the participating companies contribute funds, which then go towards the university research. MIPS partners have included Under Armour, Black & Decker, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin.

“Potholes are a consistently vexing challenge for residents of and visitors to Prince George’s County,” said Darrell B. Mobley, director of the Prince George’s County Department of Public Works and Transportation. “We are excited by the opportunity this new technology brings to help us more efficiently and economically address them.”

About the Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) Program

MIPS, a program of the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech) in the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland, supports university-based research projects to help Maryland companies develop technology-based products. Commercial products benefiting from MIPS projects have generated more than $30.2 billion in revenue, added thousands of jobs to the region, and contributed to successful products such as Martek Biosciences’ nutritional oils, Hughes Communications’ HughesNet™, MedImmune’s Synagis®, and Black & Decker’s Bullet® Speed Tip Masonry Drill Bit.

MIPS Approves 15 Technology Product Development Projects Teaming Maryland Companies With System Faculty

Pictured: algae collected from the pond in the background by Manta Biofuel LLC. The concentrated algae is converted into renewable crude oil. Manta Biofuel manufactures renewable, carbon neutral crude oil from algae that is cost competitive with fossil crude oil. Through the Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) Program, Manta Biofuel works with Russell Hill, professor and director of the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology, to determine the quality of oil that will be produced from varying types of algae blooms.

Pictured: algae collected from the pond in the background by Manta Biofuel LLC. The concentrated algae is converted into renewable crude oil. Manta Biofuel manufactures renewable, carbon neutral crude oil from algae that is cost competitive with fossil crude oil. Through the Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) Program, Manta Biofuel works with Russell Hill, professor and director of the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology, to determine the quality of oil that will be produced from varying types of algae blooms.

Four aquaculture projects highlight round

The Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) program, an initiative of the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech) in the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland, has approved 15 collaborative technology product development projects teaming Maryland companies with university researchers, program officials announce today.

A technology acceleration program, MIPS grants money, combined with company funds, to faculty engaged in each project.

This round of MIPS grants, worth $3.3 million, combines $1.3 million from MIPS and $2 million in cash and in-kind contributions from participating companies. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency provided additional funding.

Four projects focus on aquaculture in Maryland. Two involve automated oyster production, while a third enhances oyster aquaculture by co-harvesting algae as an additional product. The fourth creates a high-value fish feed from Maryland crops.

The additional 11 projects include: genomic treatment for brain trauma, on-site narcotic detection, unmanned surface vessel control system, electricity generator driven by natural gas, cord blood collection device, chronic disease mobile platform, pathogen detection system, advanced travel website and mobile application, assessment tool for violent youth, speaking enhancement software, and a system that produces crude oil from algal blooms.

PathSensors Inc. develops pathogen detection systems (pictured) for bio-security and agriculture/food processing applications. The company’s products deliver extremely rapid detection of more than 25 pathogens at previously unattainable levels of speed and sensitivity. Through the MIPS program, PathSensors collaborates with Dan Schulze, associate professor, department of microbiology and immunology, University of Maryland, Baltimore, to develop a universal biosensor system that enables the company to rapidly add new pathogens to its detection platform.PathSensors Inc. develops pathogen detection systems (pictured) for bio-security and agriculture/food processing applications. The company’s products deliver extremely rapid detection of more than 25 pathogens at previously unattainable levels of speed and sensitivity. Through the MIPS program, PathSensors collaborates with Dan Schulze, associate professor, department of microbiology and immunology, University of Maryland, Baltimore, to develop a universal biosensor system that enables the company to rapidly add new pathogens to its detection platform.

PathSensors Inc. develops pathogen detection systems (pictured) for bio-security and agriculture/food processing applications. The company’s products deliver rapid detection of more than 25 pathogens at previously unattainable levels of speed and sensitivity. Through the MIPS program, PathSensors collaborates with Dan Schulze, associate professor, department of microbiology and immunology, University of Maryland, Baltimore, to develop a universal biosensor system that enables the company to rapidly add new pathogens to its detection platform.

This round of funding connects faculty with 13 startups and two small companies. Six companies are based in the Baltimore area, three are from Maryland’s Eastern Shore, two are in College Park and one each is in southern Maryland (Hollywood), western Maryland (McHenry), Rockville and Columbia.

The approved projects, along with the combined total funding for each, include:

Autonomy Engine LLC, based in Marriottsville, develops software that predicts how listeners will perceive an individual’s speaking style. The company collaborates with Ellyn Sheffield, a research professor in the department of psychology at Towson University, to enhance the software. ($361,199)

CARE-2 LLC, based in Salisbury, develops an assessment tool to evaluate and recommend treatment for youth at risk for behaving violently. The company, through Eastern Shore Psychological Services LLC, works with Marvin Tossey, professor, social work department, Salisbury University, to analyze and improve the predictive validity of the CARE-2 assessment tool. ($250,271)

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious public health problem in the United States, with 2.5 million TBI’s occurring in 2010 alone. Cellphire Inc. plans to deliver microRNA in blood platelets, which move quickly to the site of a brain injury, delivering therapeutic (healing) agents.

Cellphire Inc., based in Rockville, is developing cell stabilization technologies that also have application in the delivery of therapeutics and labeled reagents in the diagnosis of traumatic brain injuries. The company collaborates with Bogdan Stoica, assistant professor, department of anesthesiology, University of Maryland, Baltimore, to refine and test the efficacy of the company’s technology for treating brain trauma. ($135,165)

Diagnostic anSERS Inc., based in College Park, develops low-cost sensors that detect trace chemicals using surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS). The company works with Ian White, associate professor, Fischell Department of Bioengineering, University of Maryland, to create a field-optimized narcotics sensor for use in law enforcement. ($135,000)

Hollywood Oyster Company LLC, based in Hollywood, is one of the largest oyster farms in Maryland. The company works with Patrick Kangas, associate professor, department of environmental science and technology, University of Maryland, to develop methods for scaling up macroalgae (seaweed) aquaculture to be grown in conjunction with oysters, both as a commercial product and to improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay. ($157,880)

Pictured: Oysters ready to be processed for sale or re-planted in the Chesapeake Bay by the Hollywood Oyster Company.

Pictured: Oysters ready to be processed for sale or re-planted in the Chesapeake Bay by the Hollywood Oyster Company.

Hollywood’s oysters are grown in traps in the Bay (pictured). If macroalgae (seaweed) is grown on a commercial scale near oyster farms, it could serve as a biofilter to remove excess nutrients in the Bay, and can be harvested for marketable food products.

Hollywood’s oysters are grown in traps in the Bay (pictured). If macroalgae (seaweed) is grown on a commercial scale near oyster farms, it could serve as a biofilter to remove excess nutrients in the Bay, and can be harvested for marketable food products.

Hoopers Island Oyster Aquaculture Company LLC, based in Fishing Creek, produces high-quality half-shell oysters and the equipment needed to support aquaculture in Maryland. The company works with Yang Tao, professor, Fischell Department of Bioengineering, University of Maryland, to develop a laser 3D machine vision system that sorts Chesapeake Bay-cultured oysters into quality grades. ($511,000)

Hyperion Technologies LLC, based in College Park, provides game-changing engineering services to civilian and defense clients, specializing in robotic control. The company works with S.K. Gupta, professor, department of mechanical engineering, University of Maryland, to develop an autonomous unmanned surface vehicle (USV) control system for applications such as military surveillance, environmental monitoring, off-shore oil platform inspection and search and rescue. ($218,800)

Manta Biofuel LLC, based in Reisterstown, manufactures renewable, carbon neutral crude oil from algae at a cost that is competitive with fossil crude oil. The company collaborates with Russell Hill, professor and director of the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, to determine the quality of oil that will be produced from varying types of algae blooms. ($332,274)

Metompkin Seafood Inc., based in Crisfield, distributes a variety of seafood products in the Chesapeake Bay region. The company works with Donald Meritt, principal agent, Horn Point Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, to develop a high-volume, spat-on-shell oyster production system based on remote setting technology. ($238,676)

PathSensors Inc., based in Baltimore, is a biotechnology and environmental testing company developing pathogen detection systems for bio-security and agriculture/food processing applications. PathSensors collaborates with Dan Schulze, associate professor, department of microbiology and immunology, University of Maryland, Baltimore, to develop a universal biosensor system that enables the company to rapidly add new pathogens to its detection platform. ($136,469)

Plant Sensory Systems LLC, based in Baltimore, develops technologies that improve agricultural performance and reduce negative environmental impact. The company works with Allen Place, professor, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, to produce a plant-based aquafeed with low-leaching taurine, a compound required for the development and growth of farmed fish and shellfish. ($135,950)

Silicon Travel LLC, based in McHenry, provides property management companies and their homeowners with quality Internet access and tech support. The company collaborates with George Rinard, professor and chair, department of computer science & information technologies, Frostburg State University, to enhance the company’s travel website with an itinerary tool and accompanying mobile application. ($162,970)

Soony Systems Inc., based in Baltimore, is an R&D start-up developing Gas-Tricity, a 1-2 kW combined heat-to-power home generator unit driven by natural gas. The company collaborates with Christopher Cadou, associate professor, department of aerospace engineering, University of Maryland, to develop an experimentally validated model of the Gas-Tricity engine cycle and design a working prototype. ($200,000)

TheraCord LLC, based in Baltimore, develops a novel cord blood collection device that could exponentially increase yield at a lower cost than existing solutions. The company works with Tami Kingsbury, assistant professor, department of physiology, University of Maryland, Baltimore, to optimize its perfusion process, de-risk key regulatory concerns and propel the technology towards becoming the new gold standard for cord blood collection. ($140,160)

Vheda Health Corporation, based in Columbia, simplifies disease management operations by automating care plan adherence with a mobile intervention platform that reduces acute events for high-cost, chronic disease populations. The company collaborates with Gordon Gao, associate professor, department of decision, operations & information technologies and Center for Health Information and Decision Systems (CHIDS), University of Maryland, College Park, to enhance the effectiveness of Vheda Health’s product and establish the value of Vheda Health in the management of chronic conditions such as diabetes. ($255,172)

Projects are subject to final contract negotiations.

This is the 55th round of MIPS grants. The program has supported research projects with more than 500 different Maryland companies since 1987.

MIPS-aided commercial products have generated more than $30.2 billion in revenue, added over 6,600 jobs to the state and contributed to successful products such as Martek Biosciences’ nutritional oils, Hughes Communications’ HughesNet™, MedImmune’s Synagis®, Black & Decker’s Bullet® Speed Tip Masonry Drill Bit, WellDoc’s mobile diabetes management platform, and CSA Medical’s diseased-tissue ablation platform.

For information about the historical economic impact of the MIPS program, an independent study titled “An Analysis of the Impacts of MIPS Program Spending and the Commercialization of MIPS Funded Projects on the State of Maryland,” by Richard Clinch, from the Jacob France Institute at the University of Baltimore, is available online.

VisiSonics’ RealSpace 3D Audio Software Licensed by Oculus for Virtual Reality

Image Courtesy: Sergey Galyonkin (www.flickr.com/photos/sergesegal/10187117474/in/photostream/)

Image Courtesy: Sergey Galyonkin (www.flickr.com/photos/sergesegal/10187117474/in/photostream/)

Oculus announced the deal at Oculus Connect, the company’s first developer conference, in Los Angeles, Calif.

RealSpace™ 3D Audio enables the virtual placement of sound anywhere in a 3D space with pinpoint accuracy, creating the perception of real source direction, distance, depth, and movement relative to a listener when heard through standard stereo headphones. It re-creates the auditory ambience of an environment, creating a completely immersive audio experience.

“Audio is an essential ingredient for immersive virtual reality,” said Brendan Iribe, CEO at Oculus. “The technology that the VisiSonics team has developed is a great start towards developing a fully-featured VR audio solution, and we’re incredibly excited to be licensing their work to drive VR forward.”

Based on ten years of research at the University of Maryland, RealSpace™ 3D Audio models the transformations sound undergoes as it travels from a source to a listener’s ears in an environment, using a combination of head-related transfer functions, room models and head-tracking, as well as their interplay.

“We are excited to see our RealSpace engine technology as part of the future of Oculus’ virtual reality systems,” said VisiSonics Founder and President Ramani Duraiswami. “We believe we are at a threshold for physics-based personal audio rendering in virtual reality. Oculus’ innovative technology is poised to catalyze the industry, and we are incredibly happy to play a role in this.”

RealSpace™ 3D Audio technology demos are available today at realspace3daudio.com.

VisiSonics is an Mtech Technology Advancement Program incubator company, Maryland Industrial Partnerships grant winner, and a previous finalist for the University of Maryland $75K Business Plan Competition.

Free, Open Entrepreneur Office Hours Come to Baltimore

Services Include Advice on Business Strategy, Financing, Intellectual Property, Technology Transfer and Introductions to Resources

Pictured: The Columbus Center, located in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Baltimore Entrepreneur Office Hours will located in the Columbus Center, home to the Institute for Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET).

Pictured: The Columbus Center, located in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and home to the Institute for Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET), where Baltimore Entrepreneur Office Hours are hosted.

The Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech) and the Institute for Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET) are partnering with representatives from the greater Baltimore entrepreneurship community to offer free, open Baltimore Entrepreneur Office Hours on the third Tuesday of each month. Interested entrepreneurs and innovators can walk in, or reserve a slot online at www.eoh.umd.edu/Baltimore.html.

These services, offered to the entire Baltimore community, are modeled after Mtech’s Entrepreneur Office Hours at the University of Maryland, through which more than 1,000 entrepreneurs have received assistance since 2007.

“We are excited to partner with Mtech Baltimore Director Martha Connolly and Mtech Ventures Director Craig Dye to bring the institute’s expertise, along with business and legal professionals in the region, to cultivate the flourishing entrepreneurship ecosystem in Baltimore,” said Russell Hill, Director of IMET. “Baltimore Entrepreneur Office Hours are a great first step for current or aspiring entrepreneurs to receive free and impartial advice, brainstorm business strategies, investigate funding opportunities and learn about additional resources available to entrepreneurs.”

Baltimore Entrepreneur Office Hours will help aspiring and current entrepreneurs with tech-based startups or ideas get advice on how to:

  • Build and finance a startup company;
  • Develop and protect intellectual property;
  • Navigate the technology transfer process;
  • Refine their business strategy for rapid growth; and
  • Tap into additional entrepreneurial resources

Representatives from the following organizations and groups and more will typically be on hand to speak with entrepreneurs and innovators one-on-one regarding any questions they might have about starting a company or commercializing a technology:

“Mtech is enthusiastic about the opportunity of bringing entrepreneur office hours to Baltimore,” said Peter Sandborn, Director of Mtech. “We have found this service to be an effective way of supporting our own entrepreneurial community by providing them with free access to proven experts, along with connections to the vast resources available to them in the State of Maryland. We look forward to getting to know the thriving entrepreneurship community in Baltimore.”

Baltimore Entrepreneur Office Hours are open and free to any interested innovators or entrepreneurs in the greater Baltimore region. Participants can walk in or reserve a slot online at www.eoh.umd.edu/Baltimore.html.

Maryland Industrial Partnerships Program Approves 18 Technology Development Projects, Worth $4.7 Million, Teaming Maryland Faculty and Companies

Five poultry manure-to-energy projects highlight round

Pictured: Dayton, Md.-based HY-TEK Bio's algae-based system for removing greenhouse gas from emissions created when burning fossil fuels. The pictured tanks are fully operational at the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant in Baltimore, Md. The company's MIPS grant teams it with the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology to evaluate two poultry manure-to-energy processes, as well as each system's efficacy when combined with HY-TEK Bio's greenhouse gas-scrubbing system.

Pictured: Dayton, Md.-based HY-TEK Bio’s algae-based system for removing greenhouse gas from emissions created when burning fossil fuels. The pictured tanks are fully operational at the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant in Baltimore, Md. The company’s MIPS grant teams it with the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology to evaluate two poultry manure-to-energy processes, as well as each system’s efficacy when combined with HY-TEK Bio’s greenhouse gas-scrubbing system.

The Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) program, an initiative of the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech) in the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland, has approved research projects worth $4.7 million to 18 teams combining Maryland companies with state university researchers to bring technology products closer to market, program officials announce today.

A technology acceleration program, MIPS grants money—matched with company funds—to faculty engaged in each project.

For this round of funding, companies are contributing $2.4 million and MIPS $2.3 million to the jointly funded projects. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency provided additional funding.

Five projects, worth $1.9 million, are investigating various processes for converting poultry manure to energy, including anaerobic digestion, gasification, combustion and washing, while keeping the nitrogen and phosphorous in poultry litter from polluting the Chesapeake Bay. Each would potentially produce electricity and heat, while some create additional salable byproducts, such as fertilizer, soil amendments or algae feedstock.

Pictured: custom microfluidic device fabrication by Baltimore-based Potomac Photonics. The company has developed an innovative manufacturing process for rapidly prototyping novel microfluidic devices for the biotechnology and medical device industries. The demand for these devices was so strong that it prompted the company to apply for a MIPS grant to help it increase its manufacturing capacity.

Pictured: custom microfluidic device fabrication by Baltimore-based Potomac Photonics. The company has developed an innovative manufacturing process for rapidly prototyping novel microfluidic devices for the biotechnology and medical device industries. The demand for these devices was so strong that it prompted the company to apply for a MIPS grant to help it increase its manufacturing capacity.

The additional 13 projects cover a broad swath of technologies, including: medical devices for brain scanning and pressure sensing; therapeutics for cancer, pain management and lung scarring; software for healthcare management, quality assurance for radiation therapy machines, and complex business documents; mobile-ready chemical sensors; high-quality prototype manufacturing; solid oxide fuel cells; and a natural, high-protein sports recovery milk.

This round of funding connects faculty with 16 startups and two small companies. Five projects involve companies based in the Baltimore area, while four are from Montgomery County and three are from Howard County; two are from Annapolis, two are from Maryland’s Eastern Shore and one each are from College Park and Keedysville.

Winning projects, segmented by institution, include:
University of Maryland, Baltimore

  • ($134,999) Sergei Atamas, associate professor, department of medicine, works with Baltimore-based SAJE Pharma LLC to conduct pre-clinical trial testing of the company’s therapeutic for lung scarring, also called pulmonary fibrosis.
  • ($149,550) Man-Kyo Chung, assistant professor, school of dentistry, works with Baltimore-based Centrexion Corporation to improve the company’s capsaicin pain therapeutic, based on an ingredient found in hot peppers, which studies have shown block pain associated with osteoarthritis for weeks to months after a single injection.
  • ($244,499) Steven Fletcher, assistant professor, school of pharmacy, works with Gaithersburg-based ConverGene LLC to design and synthesize drug candidates for a protein the company has identified as a strong potential cancer therapeutic.
  • ($174,020) Mark Smith, associate professor, department of diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine, works with Rockville-based Brain Biosciences Inc. to develop and validate a motion-compensation system for the company’s portable brain positron emission tomography (PET) scanner. This technology will improve the quality of brain PET images in patients who are unable to remain still for the duration of a scan.
  • ($182,580) Byongyong Yi, professor, department of radiation oncology, works with Baltimore-based JPLC Associates LLC to extend the capabilities of the company’s Raven QA product, a unified and comprehensive quality assurance system for radiation therapy machines.

University of Maryland, Baltimore County

  • ($629,500) Lee Blaney, assistant professor, department of chemical, biochemical and environmental engineering, works with Frederick based Triea Systems LLC to accelerate the development and commercialization of the company’s Quick Wash (QW) process, which physically removes and recovers phosphorus from animal manure (including poultry manure), reducing phosphorus loading into the Chesapeake Bay and creating three high-value by-products.
  • ($228,568) Tony Farquhar, associate professor, department of mechanical engineering, works with Catonsville-based Potomac Photonics Inc. to help the company increase its manufacturing capacity for hot-embossing 3D patterns into thermoplastic parts, which the company calls high-quality prototyping, for use in microfluidic devices that quantify or manipulate cell-level biochemical phenomena.
  • ($200,000) Tim Finin, professor, department of computer science and electrical engineering, works with Baltimore-based RedShred LLC to develop a semantically enhanced open information extraction software system that takes complex business documents, like grants and requests for proposals, quickly extracts important information, and offers users an efficient way to review opportunities with minimal manual intervention.

University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

  • ($334,999) Feng Chen, associate professor, Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology, works with Dayton-based HY-TEK Bio LLC to evaluate two poultry manure-to-energy processes, as well as each system’s efficacy when combined with the company’s algae-based system for removing greenhouse gas from emissions created when burning fossil fuels.

University of Maryland, College Park

  •  ($308,995) Stephanie Lansing, assistant professor, department of environmental science and technology, works with Columbia-based The Crimson Group LLC to develop a system that gasifies poultry litter waste into energy.
  • ($284,913) Stephanie Lansing, assistant professor, department of environmental science and technology, partners with Berlin-based Planet Found Energy Development LLC to develop a poultry manure-to-energy system that combines anaerobic digestion and a nutrient capture system to produce renewable energy and recover nitrogen from the poultry litter in the form of salable fertilizer.
  • ($207,304) Mei-Ling Ting Lee, professor, department of epidemiology and biostatistics, partners with Annapolis-based Synaptic Advisory Partners to enhance the company’s population health management software platform with an improved predictive model for identifying high-risk patients within a predetermined population.
  • ($132,000) Thomas Murphy, professor, department of electrical and computer engineering and director, Institute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics, works with Germantown-based N5 Sensors Inc. to develop a mobile-ready, chip-scale chemical sensor technology that can detect toxic gases such as benzene, carbon monoxide and ammonia in ambient air.
  • ($478,700) Catherine Plaisant, senior research scientist, Human-Computer Interaction Lab (HCIL), University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, works with Annapolis-based Pulse8 Inc. to apply HCIL’s interactive visualization technology (EventFlow) to Pulse8’s healthcare data software to identify patient patterns in data and direct key components of the delivery system to contain cost and improve care.
  • ($321,611) Jae Kun Shim, associate professor, department of kinesiology, teams with Keedysville-based Fluid Motion LLC to investigate the effects of 5th Quarter Fresh, a high-protein, fat-free chocolate milk, on post-exercise recovery and cumulative minor brain trauma.
  • ($136,934) Eric Wachsman, director, University of Maryland Energy Research Center (UMERC), works with Fulton-based Redox Power Systems LLC to characterize the strength, performance and reliability of enhancements Redox is making to its solid oxide fuel cells.
  • ($135,000) Miao Yu, associate professor, department of mechanical engineering and Institute for Systems Research, partners with College Park-based MedSense LLC to develop innovative, ultra-miniature fiber-optic pressure sensors for a wide range of applications in the medical industry.

University of Maryland Eastern Shore

  • ($424,692) Jennifer Timmons, associate professor, department of agriculture, food, and resource sciences, teams with Salisbury-based AHPharma Energy Systems Inc. to develop a manure-to-energy, closed-loop geothermal heating system for poultry houses.

Projects are subject to final contract negotiations.

This is the 54th round of MIPS grants. The program has supported research projects with more than 500 different Maryland companies since 1987.

Commercial products benefiting from MIPS have generated more than $28.1 billion in revenue, added more than 5,000 jobs to the state, and contributed to successful products such as Martek Biosciences’ nutritional oils, Hughes Communications’ HughesNet™, MedImmune’s Synagis®, and Black & Decker’s Bullet® Speed Tip Masonry Drill Bit, WellDoc’s mobile diabetes management platform, and CSA Medical’s diseased-tissue ablation platform.

For information about the historical economic impact of the MIPS program, an independent study titled “An Analysis of the Impacts of MIPS Program Spending and the Commercialization of MIPS Funded Projects on the State of Maryland,” by Richard Clinch, from the Jacob France Institute at the University of Baltimore, is available online.

About the Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) Program
MIPS, a program of the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech) in the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland, supports university-based research projects to help Maryland companies develop technology-based products. Commercial products benefiting from MIPS projects have generated more than $28.1 billion in revenue, added thousands of jobs to the region, and contributed to successful products such as Martek Biosciences’ nutritional oils, Hughes Communications’ HughesNet™, MedImmune’s Synagis®, and Black & Decker’s Bullet® Speed Tip Masonry Drill Bit.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.