James L. Hughes, MBA, chief enterprise and economic development officer and vice president at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), has been named director of UM Ventures, an ambitious joint research commercialization effort of UMB and the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP).

UM Ventures is a central part of an initiative between the two universities called University of Maryland: MPowering the State. The presidents of the two universities, Jay A. Perman, MD, at UMB, and Wallace D. Loh, PhD, at UMCP, announced the appointment in a letter to students, faculty, and staff on Nov. 16.

In his role as director, Hughes will help combine the commercialization and entrepreneurial efforts of the two powerhouse universities that together do more than $1 billion a year in externally sponsored research, the letter said.

UM Ventures will benefit both institutions and the state as a whole by bringing innovative products to market, expanding collaborations with industry, and creating new jobs in Maryland. Under Hughes’ direction, UM Ventures will create a fully coordinated innovation ecosystem across both institutions. Technology transfer policies and procedures will be unified and streamlined. Collaboration among faculty will be enhanced and technologies will be jointly marketed to industry.

Licensing agreements, startup companies, and industry-sponsored research are expected to increase under UM Ventures, which is a critical element of a strategy to recruit entrepreneurial, highly collaborative faculty and students to both institutions.

Hughes brings many years of experience in technology commercialization to UM Ventures. He was named UMB’s first chief enterprise and economic development officer in July 2011, and he will continue in this role. Hughes previously served 10 years as UMB’s vice president for research and development, and he manages UMB’s Office of Research and Development and the University of Maryland BioPark.

Before joining UMB, Hughes worked for the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development as director of technology and international business, and as executive director of the World Trade Center Institute, a public-private partnership dedicated to expanding international trade and investment. He has an MBA from the Columbia Business School and a BA from Davidson College.