Published 12/7/17 in the Baltimore Business Journal
A new innovation space from the University of Maryland, Baltimore is opening inside the historic Lion Brothers building on Hollins Street.
About 6,200 square feet of the 38,000-square-foot building will be dedicated to offices, class/meeting rooms and coworking space geared toward supporting entrepreneurship and technology startups. The new space will be called the GRID, an acronym for Graduate Research Innovation District, and will be housed in the revamped former Lion Brothers Co. clothing and embroidery factory near the university’s BioPark campus.
The GRID is being launched as part of a new set of initiatives from UM Ventures, a joint research and technology commercialization effort between University of Maryland, Baltimore and University of Maryland, College Park. Along with the GRID, UM Ventures is launching a new funding program aimed at drawing more university-born startups to put down roots and grow in the city.
The Baltimore Fund will not be limited to GRID ventures, but to any startup company affiliated with any University System of Maryland school. It will be used to help subsidize a number of university-born startups to move into the city, and into one of the local innovation spaces that can help them grow — including UMB’s BioPark, Johns Hopkins University’s FastForward incubator/accelerators, the Harbor Launch incubator at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology, or Port Covington’s City Garage. The fund will help pay about half the companies’ first year of rent in an office or lab at one of these spaces, said Jim Hughes, director of UM Ventures.
“The goal here is to get more university-affiliated companies in the city, to create jobs and spur economic development,” Hughes said.
That’s the goal of the GRID as well. Hughes said more and more students are considering entrepreneurship as a career path, and UM Ventures wanted to create a space where those students can be trained in entrepreneurship, and learn about how to work in a startup environment. The GRID will have office space for existing startups to operate and coworking space for entrepreneurs to interact and collaborate. Advisory services and legal assistance will be available to GRID companies as well as other small businesses from the Southwest Baltimore community, Hughes said.
Building further on the partnership between the College Park and Baltimore campuses, the space will house a satellite location of College Park’s Robert E. Fischell Institute for Biomedical Devices, with a focus on jointly-developed medical devices, as well.
It will also feature a coffee bar and cafe from local food startup, Culinary Architecture — one of two eatery concepts already planned for the Lion Brothers property.
“We’re very excited for this launch. It really expands the economic development role of what we’re doing [at UM Ventures], specifically working to bring new companies to Baltimore and build up the tech community in the city,” Hughes said. “It’s all focused on better preparing our students and creating more jobs.”