Published 3/9/17 in The Baltimore Sun

University of Maryland, Baltimore plans to launch a student innovation center this summer.

The center will bring together the university’s existing entrepreneurship resources and aim to expand opportunities for students to be involved in commercializing research alongside staff and faculty.

The center will be based on the UMB campus, but the exact location has not been determined.

“We’d like this to be a nexus where we can have students, staff and faculty from all the UMB schools but also all the [University System of Maryland] schools interacting,” said Jim Hughes, the chief enterprise and economic development officer at UMB.

Hughes spoke Thursday at an event highlighting research commercialization opportunities for students at the university’s campus center.

The innovation center is part of a broader initiative at UMB to accelerate research commercialization and better coordinate commercialization efforts with University of Maryland, College Park.

That initiative, called the Center for Maryland Advanced Ventures, came out of the General Assembly’s attempt last year to combine the state university system’s Baltimore and College Park schools, which resulted in an agreement to strengthen collaboration between the two campuses.

The state’s budget for fiscal year 2018 includes $4 million for the Center for Maryland Advanced Ventures at UMB. The center will be dedicated to expanding entrepreneurship initiatives and research, emphasizing activities that promote collaboration with the College Park campus, as well as with other research universities.

Aside from the student-led innovation center, no other programs under the Center for Maryland Advanced Ventures have been approved.

Hughes said university leaders are considering ideas that include a job training and hiring program for Baltimore residents and a grant program for life-science companies that need extra funding for such work as manufacturing a prototype or completing a study to become more attractive to outside investors.