Sunday, February 27, 2011

Maryland Helps Post Docs

A new hands-on course called “INNoVATE ™” located in Maryland is geared to help post-doctoral fellows and research scientists in the life sciences bring innovations to the marketplace by starting their own companies. Billions are spent on research in life sciences in the D.C. Metro area at NIH, universities, federal, state, and local research centers, laboratories and now there is the need for entrepreneurs to bring this newly developed technology to the marketplace.

There are 5,000 post-docs in the D.C. area with academia employing 7 to 10 percent of these post docs. Since there is a lack of opportunity, very often the talent leaves the area. The program INNoVATE ™ started with grant funding from the National Science Foundation and is backed by the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Johns Hopkins University’s Carey Business School, Montgomery County Department of Economic Development, and Rockville Economic Development to help the post-doc community develop innovative science-based companies.

The course is taught by seasoned life sciences business people who have all started and run their own companies. With the proper guidance, the hope is that many of the participants in the program will actually start their own companies. Post-docs with particular scientific expertise are matched with mentors from the business community and work with either a technology they bring in themselves or work with a technologies offered by local academic or government institutions such as NIH and NIST.

The 2010 INNoVATE ™ class had 16 post docs and 9 scientists plus business people enrolled. At the end of the program, three companies were formed with four or five more participants considering forming companies.

Once participants establish their companies through INNoVATE ™, they are encouraged to contact TEDCO, one of the business incubators in Montgomery County, or seek help from the Technical Council of Maryland, or from MDBio.

The program’s three year goals are to:

• Train 45 post docs to start companies using technologies from federal and academic laboratories
• Train 45 business people, scientists to start science-based companies
• Evaluate 60 candidate technologies from NIH and other federal laboratories
• Continuously modify the curriculum to fit the needs of science and technology entrepreneurs
• Develop a model for federal tech transfer
• Study, monitor, and evolve the program to complement traditional offerings at prestigious business schools

The 2011 class started in February. For more information on the program, email Dr. David Fink, Director of Entrepreneurial Service at the University of Maryland, in Baltimore at or go to the INNoVATE web site at